Waugh and the Hendon Nudists

An article appears in the Londonist (an online magazine devoted to local news about London, past and present) relating to  a 1930 incident when a group of nudists chose to sunbathe unclothed at a Hendon lake called the Welsh Harp.  This was adjacent to a public footpath, provoking a group of protesters who gathered nearby. The incident also provoked an article by Evelyn Waugh in the Daily Mail which is quoted in the Londonist:

Novelist Evelyn Waugh also attributed the local attention to a kind of warped voyeurism: ‘The people who made such a fuss at the Welsh Harp simply detest the spectacle of bodies of any kind, beautiful or ugly. But do they cherish their over-delicate sensibility and avoid places where they are liable to be shocked?… No. These astonishing people assemble in a large crowd at the one place where they know they will see the very thing which displeases them.”

While Waugh was concerned to protect the privacy of the sunbathers, he also thought they might be more circumspect about their choice of venues for their activities and a bit less self-righteous about their expectations to be left alone. He also expressed some doubts about the wisdom of sunbathing as contributing to good health which has since been confirmed by the medical conclusion that it can contribute to skin cancer. The article entitled “This Sunbathing Business” appears in the Daily Mail for 5 July 1930. It is also collected in A Little Order, p. 17 and EAR, p. 86.

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