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Nixon was born in Stoke-on-Trent and studied in London at the Slade and South Kensington Schools. He painted in oils and watercolours and was a fine printmaker, becoming a Rome scholar in 1923. He visited Falmouth in 1929 and then moved to Cornwall in 1931 at the urging of Lamorna Birch, settling originally in Lamorna where he lived until 1933. He married fellow artist, Nina Berry and they moved to St Ives in 1934 and briefly ran a School of Painting. In 1935 he returned to London to teach at the Slade. He died in 1938 at the age of 47.