Elizabeth was European Bureau Chief of Life Magazine in the late 80's and early 90's. During that time, she arranged photo stories and interviewed Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, the Dalai Lama, and dozens of other leaders, movie and pop stars, politicians, and royalty, as well as torture victims, political prisoners and criminals. She oversaw Life photographers in the field during the first Gulf War.
In 1990, she managed to initiate and co-ordinate the acquisition of Mandela's autobiography for Little Brown, while Mr. Mandela was still in prison. She spent the first three weeks of Mandela's release in his back garden.
Prior to her appointment at Life, she was a reporter at the London bureau of Time Magazine for two years.
In 1994 Bloomsbury UK and Knopf Canada published her novel, The Monkey Puzzle Tree, which tells the story of the CIA mind control program in Montreal in the 50's and 60's. Liz Calder, a founding director and editor in chief of Bloomsbury, was the book's editor and champion.
Nickson has also written for The (London) Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, Tatler, The Sunday Telegraph, Vogue, Femme, Vogue Hommes, The Spectator (UK), Saturday Night, Chatelaine, and Harper's Magazine.
In 1998, Elizabeth moved to Salt Spring Island in Canada, and began writing for the Globe and Mail as a contributing reviewer for the Books section. She became a weekly columnist for the Globe in the Review section the following year.
In 2000, she moved to the Comment Page of the National Post. During the five years she was a national columnist, she developed a way of framing economics, politics, and culture using personal story to illuminate meaning and import. As a result she became well-known in Canada, was quoted widely, and was much criticized and equally loved. She appeared on television and radio, gave speeches at various think tanks, and debated politicians and other thinkers.
Her 2001 Harper's piece, Where the Bee Sucks, used the plot, characters and language of The Tempest to describe Salt Spring Island's political life. Where the Bee Sucks was collected in The Best American Travel Writing of 2002, edited by Frances Mayes.
In 2005, she began the process of dividing her 30 acre forest in half, covenanting her ravine, building a salmon enhancement project and restoring a meadow once used as a gravel pit. She then built a green house, contracting and project managing the construction herself. The subdivision is now taught in local colleges and universities as a case study in “good green development”.
During this period, she wrote Eco-Fascists, How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage, chronicling her experience and using it as a lens through which to examine the excesses of the conservation movement.
She continued writing columns from time to time, for the Globe and Mail Comment Page, and for the Women's Post.
Before Elizabeth became a writer, she put herself through university by starting or working for theatre companies in Vancouver and Toronto. The Women's Theatre Co-Op which she started in her third year of university with director Svetlana Zylin, became the first professional feminist theatre in Canada.
After graduate school, she moved to New York. There, she worked for Arthur Penn, the film director, as his personal assistant for three years. With then-husband, Thom Oatman, she began New Republic Clothiers in Soho. At first, the shop was a popular vintage warehouse for the club kids of lower Manhattan; it later became a store selling original menswear and bespoke suits to the artists, musicians, actors, sculptors and designers of Soho.
Elizabeth's graduate degree is an MBA in arts administration.