Nicholas Saunders was a pioneer of the wholefood movement and
the man behind the development of Neal's Yard in Covent Garden
(people who came up to him there often addressed him as Neal).
In the Seventies he was the author of Alternative London, a guide
to alternative living, and in the Nineties of E for Ecstasy, a
study of the new drug culture. Saunders was always conscious of
|The wholefood shop was sold in the mid-Eighties, whereupon, hearing
about the many practitioners of alternative medicines who had
nowhere to practise, Saunders decided to open therapy rooms they
could hire. His intention was for each practitioner's c.v. to
be available to potential patients. Two buildings at one end of
the yard were rebuilt and there, having been excited early on
by the potential of computers, Saunders started the first Desk
Top Publishing Studio, where people could hire computers by the
hour and be given professional help. A "self-fulfilment agency"
and a small restaurant were housed in the same building.
On the top floors he designed an imaginative rooftop garden and a flat where he slept in a suspended egg and arranged a padded ledge for guests. Here his son, Kristoffer, of whom he was immensely proud, slept on his regular visits from Denmark.
Nicholas Saunders spent the last years of his life investigating the drug culture and particularly Ecstasy, which he realised had become a way of life among many young people. The result was his book E for Ecstasy, published in 1993, followed by Ecstasy and the Dance Culture (1995) and Ecstasy Reconsidered (1996). When he died he was working on another book, about drugs and spirituality.
Saunders believed that it was now impossible to ban drugs altogether; it was better that they should be used sensibly. He particularly disliked the sensational and inaccurate newspaper coverage of the subject, and regretted that politicians of all parties were unable to discuss the problem seriously.
With his partner, Anya Dashwood, with whom he had found complete happiness during the last few years, Saunders travelled all over the world gathering information for his new book. It was on the only trip that she did not accompany him that he met his death in a car accident in South Africa.
- Flora Maxwell Stuart