Alastair Graham, Steven Runciman and More Misfits

A blogger named John (who lives in the Southern US) posted on his weblog Notes from a Common-place Book a report of his recent trip to England. This posting is dated 4 September 2017. He sought out gravesites of writers he considered “misfits” based to some extent on his reading of Duncan Fallowell’s recent book How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits. (Reviewed in EWS 43.3 Winter 2013, p. 29: “The Quest for Alastair Graham”.) The blogger starts with Dylan Thomas and describes his grave at Laugherne in South Wales. This leads him to mention Thomas’s acquaintance in New Quay with Alastair Graham (who was a model for Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited) and Fallowell’s description of Graham. More interesting (or less familiar) is his mention of Alastair’s affair with Steven Runciman in the 1930s. This was mentioned not in Fallowell’s book but in the recent biography of Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw (Outlandish Knight, now available in paperback) mentioned in earlier posts:

I first read of Graham in a passing reference (but extensive footnote) in the new biography of Steven Runciman.  The two met in Athens [sic] in the mid 1930s, both in low-level diplomatic positions:  Runciman in early phase of a long and varied career [sic], and Graham in the only real job he ever tackled.  They had some trysts but Runciman was too discreet for someone like Graham.  The footnote in the Runciman biography led me to Duncan Fallowell’s How to Disappear:  A Memoir for Misfits, one of the most weirdly satisfying books I have ever read.  He devotes a chapter to Graham.

The blogger also describes visits to churchyards in Mells, where he photographs the graves of Ronald Knox and Siegrfried Sassoon, and in Combe Florey, where Evelyn Waugh is buried after he:

…purchased the social accoutrements to the life to which he aspired, [but] was ill-fitted for the role; in short, a misfit.  And Waugh would probably admitted as much.  Nothing illustrates his outsider status better than his grave.  The back side of the park is hard up against the Sts. Peter and Paul churchyard.  But Waugh, his wife and daughter are not buried in the graveyard, as such, but just over the cemetery wall into the field.  One has to step over a wall and onto the private property to view it. The English gravestones do not seem to age well, and his is already almost unreadable.  In time, the estate became too expensive to maintain and Waugh’s grandchildren were forced to dump it.  Vanity of vanities.

He doesn’t mention the need for repair of the Waugh gravesites which was recently in the news. A photograph of the gravesite is included in the weblog, but it is taken from the top of the wall looking down into the churchyard so that any damage to the retaining wall is not noticeable.

UPDATE (11 September 2017): Based on information in the biography of Steven Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw, the above posting has been modified.  See later post. The spelling of Alastair’s name has also been corrected.

Share
This entry was posted in Brideshead Revisited, Combe Florey, Evelyn Waugh, Evelyn Waugh Studies, Wales and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Alastair Graham, Steven Runciman and More Misfits

  1. Pingback: Alastair Graham and Steven Runciman (more) | The Evelyn Waugh Society

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*