Waugh Exhibition Catalogue Available Online

The catalogue of E.W. Pinxit: An Exhibition of the Graphic Art of Evelyn Waugh is available online and may be downloaded in pdf format from this link. It is written by Mark Everett with the assistence of Ed Maggs and Alice Rowell, with photography by Ivo Karaivanov. There is a textual discussion of Waugh’s career as an artist as well as an identification and brief description (where relevant) of each of the more than 60 items on display, many of which are illustrated. Some items are for sale, in which case a price is listed. Here’s an excerpt of the text:

We have the opportunity to see in the present exhibition more of Waugh’s graphic work than has ever been brought together before and exhibited in public. Confronted by this body of work, the vast majority of which Waugh had completed by the age of 30, the question arises whether the world lost a significant artist, when he decided to concentrate exclusively on prose.

Waugh himself had no illusions about the limitations of his talent for graphic art. In A Little Learning (1964), he says of his short time at Heatherley’s art school in 1924: “As a result of the exercises in the studio my eye grew sharpened and my hand more responsive until my drawings were by no means the worst in the class; but boredom soon overcame me. I enjoyed making an agreeable arrangement of line and shadow on the paper, but I was totally lacking in that obsession with solid form, the zeal for probing the structure of anatomy and for relating to one another the recessions of planes, which alone could make the long hours before the models exciting.” …

What would Waugh have made of the present exhibition? One suspects that he would have been amused that anyone had considered it an exercise worth undertaking. As a craftsman, though, he would surely have been gratified that his largely ephemeral work of so long ago was still being appreciated. Above all, one suspects that he would wish to repeat his injunction from the Author’s Note to Decline and Fall: Please bear in mind throughout that IT IS MEANT TO BE FUNNY.

Ths exhibition opened earlier this week and continues through Friday, 28 July at Maggs Bros., 48 Bedford Square, London WC1.

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Waugh’s Article on Catholics in America Quoted

Author and critic Terry Teachout who writes for the Wall Steert Journal and Commentary has posted on his arts news weblog, without comment, a quote from Evelyn Waugh’s 1949 Life Magazine article entitled “The American Epoch in the Catholic Church”:

The United States does not form part of Christendom in the traditional sense of the word. She is the child of late 18th Century ‘enlightenment’ and the liberalism of her founders has persisted through all the changes of her history and penetrated into every part of her life. Separation of church and state was an essential dogma. Government, whatever its form, was looked upon as the captain of a liner, whose concern is purely with navigation. He holds his command ultimately from the passengers. Under his immediate authority the public rooms of his ship are used for religious assemblies of all kinds, while in the bar anyone may quietly blaspheme.

This article was the result of two trips Waugh made to the USA in late 1948 and early 1949 spending about four months in the country in total. Although Waugh usually turned such extensive trips into travel books or novels (or both) in this case the primary result was this article. He was hosted by Time-Life and Roman Catholic colleges and universities where he lectured and may have thought it improper to satirize those targets. In any event, he had already satirized the USA in The Loved One and several articles based on his previous trip to Los Angeles in 1947. The Life Magazine article is rather stiff and humorless compared to Waugh’s other writings, and its depiction of Roman Catholicism during what in retrospect may seem its “Golden Age” in the USA is dated. No one writing in 1949 could have foreseen the changes in the American Catholic Church that would occur due to the election of John F Kennedy, Vatican II and the sex abuse scandals in the years since then. The article was also published in a slightly different version in The Tablet and that version was collected in Waugh’s Essays, Articles and Reviews. The original Life Magazine article (19 September 1949, p. 134) complete with the lavish illustrations typical of that publication can be viewed on the internet at this link.

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Martin D’Arcy and Alec Waugh Archives Described

There are recent postings relating to the UK archives holding the papers of Fr Martin D’Arcy and Alec Waugh. Fr D’Arcy’s archives are discussed in an article on the Jesuits in Britain website:

The collection contains letters from over 700 different correspondents and demonstrates D’Arcy’s connections to high-profile figures of the time. Notable correspondents include the Asquith family, Hilaire Belloc, John Betjeman, Anthony Burgess, Kenneth Clark, T S Eliot, the Kennedys, Percy Wyndham Lewis, Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, Siegfried Sassoon, and J R R Tolkien….D’Arcy’s popularity among the social elite of the day is again glimpsed at in a folder of material relating to a dinner arranged by Evelyn Waugh and Tom Burns, publisher and former editor of The Tablet, for D’Arcy, 24 July 1950 at the Hyde Park Hotel. Tickets cost 23 shillings each and the event was widely reported in the national newspapers. Speakers included Evelyn Waugh, T S Eliot and Douglas Woodruff, while Lord Pakenham presided over the occasion. A surviving invitation to the dinner exists, among a list of attendees, RSVPs and news cuttings, on the back of which D’Arcy has written notes for his own speech. The Evening Standard stated that the dinner was held simply ‘because they like him’.

Several items from the archive are illustrated in the article, including a letter from Senator John Kennedy after he was elected President as well as the dinner invitation described above. The Jesuit UK archives are located at 114 Mount Street, London W1 as well as at Campion Hall, Oxford, and Stonyhurst College. Where the D’Arcy papers are located in not mentioned.

The Old Shirburnian society has posted several photos from the school archives that are related to Alec Waugh. Some of the photos show teams and school groups which include Alec. His papers about his time at Sherborne School are filed in the school archives. Other papers are housed at the University of Texas and Boston University. There is also an explanation of Alec’s career at Sherborne at this WordPress website. In this article, it is explained that Alec and his father were dropped from the membership in the Old Shirburnian society after the scandal following his book Loom of Youth which included descriptions of homosexuality among schoolboys. The school also refused to accept Evelyn Waugh as a student. According to the article:

In 1933 the OS Society decided that the Waughs could wear the tie again. Alec sent his two boys to the school. He donated all the papers relating to Loom of Youth to the school.

Of course, by then it was too late to compensate Evelyn for having been barred from attendance.

Another blogger discusses Alec’s claim to have invented the cocktail party:

Alec Waugh (brother of the novelist Evelyn) insisted in a 1970 Esquire essay that he invented the idea of drinks-before-dinner in the 1920s. Others point to a Tacoma Times article from April 1917 crediting a St. Louis socialite, Mrs. Clara Bell Walsh, as the first to hold a party devoted exclusively to mixed drinks.

The article posted on the atlasobscura.com website goes on to support the position that Mrs Walsh may have claimed the record, in the USA at least, in which case this year would be the centenary of her event. However, the contemporaary newspaper story that is copied in the web article says that the cocktail party “already is an established St Louis institution, filling a long felt Sunday want in society circles.” So, its centenary may already have passed.  Alec’s claim related mostly to parties he organized in London. See earlier post. That UK cocktail party centenary is still awaited.

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The Eater at Quaglino’s with Waugh

The London edition of Eater.com, an online food journal, has done a profile on the long-lived Mayfair establishment of Quaglino’s. Waugh’s association with Quaglino’s was mentioned in a previous post that was based on the restaurant’s own advertising copy. In her article for Eater.com, Phillipa Snow fills most of her story (“Quaglino’s: A History of Restaurant Glamour”) with reports of the restaurant’s fame as a place for celebrities to do what they do best (which does not necessarily involve enjoying a meal). In recounting the restaurant’s history, Snow mentions Waugh:

Evelyn Waugh, the author, took his mistress, Audrey, there at least once, though it did not stop his being cock-blocked after dinner. “After cocktails,” says one record of the evening, “[Evelyn] went to Quaglino’s with Audrey … From dinner, Waugh went to a party. Then went round to Audrey’s for another party. There he waited for hours to sleep with Audrey but ‘she was too tired.’”

The “Audrey” would be Audrey Lucas and the “record” of the evening is that recounted by Duncan McLaren on his Evelyn Waugh internet site where there is a detailed and well-researched description of Waugh’s on-and-off affair with Lucas. This particular Quaglino visit is sourced from Waugh’s diary for 19 June 1930. Waugh was a frequent customer at Quaglino’s in 1930, the year after it opened. He recounts in his diaries at least 3 dinners with Audrey and one with Nancy Mitford on its premises in a four-week period (Diaries, pp. 316-23). Two years later, he returned with Teresa Jungman and entertained her the night before leaving for British Guiana. See previous post.

Snow sums up her estimation of the restaurant as more a place to be seen than to eat:

…Quaglino’s is a place for looking, being looked at. Food and drink could not be anything but secondary to the mood.

Indeed, Snow doesn’t even tell us what she ate, although she does mention the drinks (strong and expensive) and the ashtrays (Art Deco).

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Maggs Bros Exhibit Opens Today

There are additional notices regarding the Maggs Bros. booksellers exhibit of Waugh’s graphic artwork. See previous posts. These appear on the Spectator Life and artdaily.org websites. The Spectator Life article also has several reproductions. The exhibit opens today, 18 July and runs through Friday, 28 July. The artdaily notice includes this  description of the exhibit’s highlights, revealing details not previously published:

• A manuscript of Waugh’s second novel Vile Bodies, 1930, accompanied by a colour proof of Waugh’s most famous design for the dust jacket and title page illustration. The proof is inscribed by Waugh to Bryan and Diana Guinness (née Mitford): “This is to be the cover. Do you like it? I do.” Part of the Elliott collection, the manuscript is being lent by the Brotherton Library of Leeds University.

• A painting of Napoleon by the invented artist “Bruno Hat,” a hoax that fooled many in British high society and was masterminded, in part, by Waugh, 1929.

• An original untitled pen and ink and wash drawing by Evelyn Waugh: Cocktail hour in a hotel lounge with cactus, modern literature, a cephalopod in a fish tank, a bare-bottomed statue and negro waiter. Signed and dated 1929. Possibly an unused illustration for Vile Bodies.

• The brilliant 1938 dust jacket design for Waugh’s celebrated journalism novel Scoop. Although not formally attributed to Waugh, it is understood that he played a major hand in its conception and design. It is one of the most well-known dustjackets of the period, and had to be revised after Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express (parodied as the “Daily Beast”) objected to the similarity of their title lettering…

Maggs Bros. bookshop is located in new premises at 48 Bedford Square in Bloomsbury, London WC1.

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Arcadia and Country Houses (More)

The BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the Words and Music episode on the subject of “Arcadia” is now available on the internet at this link. It is more music than words, and if you want to know source of either, you will need to follow the information that appears below the box with the start button. Some of the connections between words and music are obvious, others less so. In the entry prior to the Waugh reading, for example, the words are by Rachel Carson from Silent Spring describing how once there was an ideal US city surrounded by farms where all lived in harmony with nature but that was long ago (00:41:00). This is followed by Joni Mitchell singing “Big Yellow Taxi” with the refrain “They paved paradise and built up a parking lot.” In the case of Waugh, the reading comes from Book One, Chapter One, of Brideshead Revisited (Revised Ed., Penguin, pp. 25-26) beginning “At Swindon we turned off the main road…” and continuing through “‘…I could come back and dig it up and remember'” (00:44:30). This is followed by an excerpt from Debussy, “Sonate–Pastorale”.

In another contribution to the topic of writers and country houses (see previous post), the Times reviews a book by Phyllis Richardson entitled The House of Fiction: From Pemberley to Brideshead. This supports the proposition that one will know a writer’s work better if one visits the houses where the writer lived or which are described in the works:

We gain much, [Richardson] argues, by visiting the homes of great writers, especially those whose novels hinge on houses built, sold, married into, burnt down or left to go to rack and ruin…House of Fiction gives us old familiars — Jane Austen’s Pemberley, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead — and other less obvious houses, such as Corley Court from Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child and Crome from Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow, a souped-up satire on Lady Ottoline Morrell’s boho-conchie house parties at Garsington.

The reviewer (Laura Freeman) doesn’t say much about which house is described in the chapter on Brideshead, but the publisher’s description on Amazon suggests that it might be Madresfield Court where “Evelyn Waugh plotted Charles Ryder’s return to Brideshead while a guest…” Well, there is a connection, but that’s not where the book was written; this may not be down to Ms Richardson so much as an overzealous blurb writer.  The book was mostly written, as recorded on its final page, in “Chagford, February-June 1944” at the Easton Court Hotel. Freeman also notes some structures she wishes Richardson had included in her book:

In any project like this you inevitably feel piqued that a favourite has been left out. Richardson gives us Miss Havisham’s Satis House and Mr Wemmick’s cheery Walworth cottage in Great Expectations, but not Mr Boffin’s “spanker” of a house in an “Eminently Aristocratic” part of town in Our Mutual Friend. We read of Waugh’s Brideshead, but not Mrs Beste-Chetwynde’s “ferro-concrete and aluminium” modernist palace in Decline and Fall. No chapter, either, on Toad Hall, Badger’s sett, Rat’s lodge or Mole’s hill, the four enviable bachelor retreats of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.

While there are possibly real world equivalents of Toad Hall (Mapledurham House) and  Satis House (although I thought it was burnt down), the modern Kings Thursday may have been a figment of Waugh’s creative imagination.

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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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Telegraph Reviews Opening of Waugh Art Exhibit

On the occasion of the opening of the exhibit next week at Maggs Bros booksellers relating to Waugh’s work as a graphic artist, Michael Bird reviews his career in that field in today’s Sunday Telegraph. After describing Waugh’s movement from modernist iconoclast to opponent of Picasso and his followers, Bird comments on the exhibit:

Antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros’ selection from Waugh’s copious artistic output includes his Cherwell contributions alongside later commercial work, such as the jacket for Vile Bodies, with its vorticist-inspired racing car graphic. There’s an illustration from Decline and Fall in which the German modernist architect Professor Silenus presides over a building site resembling a demolished temple. True to his cubist roots, Waugh understood what the avant-garde knockers-down of hallowed traditions were about. Modernism might be unfriendly or pretentious, but it was nowhere near as drearily deadly as English good taste…

How easily this angry, avant-garde young man has been obscured by the older Waugh’s born-again loathing for Picasso. After Waugh began his country-house life at Piers Court in 1937, and later at Coombe Florey, his eye seems to have been exercised more in domestic and garden design, and in collecting Pre-Raphaelite paintings, than in making art of any kind.

By the time Brideshead came out in 1945, he was well along this road. Yet, for the moment at least, the cubist renegade lived on in the heart of the grumpy squire. “Charm,” observes [Anthony Blanche to Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited], “is the great English blight. It kills love; it kills art; I greatly fear, my dear Charles, it has killed you.” No manifesto for modern art could put the case more clearly.

The article in the Telegraph’s online edition contains several well-produced reproductions of Waugh’s artwork. The exhibit is entitled “EW Pinxit: The Graphic Art of Evelyn Waugh”. It will have a relatively short run at Maggs Bros Ltd, 48 Bedford Square, London WC1 (maggs.com), from Tues 18 July to Friday 28 July. On Tuesday 25 July Waugh scholar Rebecca Moore will lecture on the subject of her recent research on Waugh’s art in the archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. See earlier post.

UPDATE (17 July 2017): The following additional information about the Waugh art exhibit appeared in the Antiques Trade Gazette:

The show, EW Pinxit, is thought to be the first of its kind, and presents a range of Waugh’s early illustrations, which combine Victorian and ‘jazz age’ visual styles. Some material is for sale while some pieces appear on loan from Leeds University’s Brotherton Library, the Waugh family and various private collections.

Among the highlights is a 1950 handmade Christmas card reproducing Gaetano Zumba’s 17th century wax diorama of a plague scene and likening it to family life. It is available for £4500. Also included are a manuscript of the author’s second novel along with a design for the dust jacket and title page illustration, and a selection of drawings for Waugh’s undergraduate magazines Oxford Broom and Cherwell. From the latter is a 1923 series ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ which includes ‘The intolerable wickedness of he who drinks alone.’

The gallery’s Ed Maggs says: “This has always been a somewhat underrated part of his life and we hope to show that his black humour and vicious irony found as equal an opportunity in his artwork as in his writing.”

UPDATE 2 (17 July 2017): The Waugh art exhibit will open tomorrow, Tuesday 18 July, not 25 July as originally stated. Rebecca Moore’s lecture will be on Tuesday, 25 July at 630pm. This has been corrected in the text above.

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“Scoop-like” Novel Boosted

In Peter Wilby’s New Stateman column, the new novel Splash! by Stephen Glover often likened to Waugh’s Scoop has been given another boost. As explained by Wilby, Scoop:

… drew on Waugh’s experience of covering Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia (as it then was) for the Mail. Written in Waugh’s style, Splash! imitates his practice of giving characters expressively comic names: there’s an editor called Doodle and a reporter called Blunt. Glover clearly enjoyed writing it and I enjoyed reading it. But anybody hoping for a wounding portrayal of the Mail and its present editor Paul Dacre will be disappointed. Though the cognoscenti will spot similarities – for example, Doodle, like Dacre, doesn’t use a computer at work – they are incidental and inoffensive. Glover’s novel is an apologia for tabloid journalism and a celebration of its role in exposing corruption among the elite. The best fiction on the press comes from established writers who dabble in journalism only occasionally. Apart from Scoop, my favourites are Michael Frayn’s Towards the End of the Morning and Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day.

Scoop itself receives a recommendation on the website PureWow (hat tip to Dave Lull) as one of the 50 funniest books:

A satire of sensationalist journalism and foreign correspondents, Scoop is partly based on Waugh’s experience working for the Daily Mail. Ooo, juicy.

 

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Waugh and Country Houses

There have been several recent articles that mention Evelyn Waugh in connection with English country houses:

Carlton Towers. As noted in a recent post, this house was the setting of Hetton Abbey in the 1980s film version of A Handful of Dust. Waugh had been an invited guest there in the late 1930s but that was several years after he wrote the novel. The present owners are offering the house as a venue for corporate events and are taking advantage of the Waugh connections in their promotional materials:

Carlton Towers starred as Hetton Abbey in the 1988 film A Handful Of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, and provided a stunning backdrop for the television dramatisation of Charles Dickens’ Micawber, starring David Jason. More recently lavish ITV1 costume drama Victoria was filmed at Carlton Towers. Starring Jenna Coleman as the young queen, Carlton played the part of Windsor Castle in the acclaimed series.

Sevenhampton Place. This is a large house that was the last residence of Ian Fleming. It is described and illustrated, along with several of his other country houses, on a website dedicated to Fleming’s life and works :

Ian and Ann Fleming moved into what would be Ian’s final house, Sevenhampton Place in the village of Sevenhampton near Swindon in Wiltshire, in June 1963. It was Ann’s ideal home, but it was far from in an ideal state when the Flemings bought the house in 1959. The house required considerable repair, renovation and refurbishment, and it was four years before Ian and Ann could take up residence… In a letter to Evelyn Waugh, Ann Fleming describes its forty bedrooms, billiard room and ballroom, though these rooms would be considerably altered. …the house itself dates to the 18th century. The house was remodelled in 1904 before being remodelled a second time by the Flemings…

Ann Fleming’s letter to Waugh was dated 31 August 1959 and describes the house as “near Faringdon”, which is a more bucolic setting than Swindon, the nearest mainline station. The letter is collected in the 1985 edition of The Letters of Ann Fleming, edited by Mark Amory. She also told Waugh that it had “a romantic garden and a better piece of water than yours…the Carolean wings are lovely…”

Pemberley. This is a fictional house described in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice that was the home of the heroine’s love interest Mr Darcy. It is described in a recent New York Times article:

When did she fall in love with Darcy? Elizabeth’s sister Jane asks. “I believe,” replies Elizabeth, “I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” It is not a joke. As do country houses elsewhere in literature — Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead, for instance — Pemberley embodies the Tory values of old England. This is what Elizabeth is marrying into and what she will support, wholeheartedly, as Mrs. Darcy.

This discussion of the traditional view of Austen comes in a review by literary critic John Sutherland of a new and revisionist book about Austen’s life and work entitled Jane Austen: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly. This new “radical” view of Austen rejects the foregoing interpretation of Austen’s motivations for marrying Darcy:

… Kelly’s Elizabeth is from another political galaxy. Elizabeth’s undutifulness as a daughter, her laughter, her lack of reverence for Mr. Collins, her lack of respect for Lady Catherine de Bourgh — they’re all of a piece. Elizabeth is, in short, constructed to be “a conservative’s nightmare.” … Why does Kelly’s Elizabeth marry the master of Pemberley? Because she is strong enough to radicalize him. Would Kelly’s Elizabeth have voted for Jeremy Corbyn? The answer is obvious.

Waugh would probably have taken a dim view of this revisionist interpretation of Austen (if, indeed, he bothered to express any view at all), but I wonder if he would agree with the Sutherland’s “traditional view” as applied to Brideshead Castle that it “embodied the Tory values of old England”. It may have done so up to the time of Lord Marchmain’s conversion to Roman Catholicism but afterwards, perhaps not so much? New values were brought in by his wife’s religion which would be consistent with “Tory values”, but only up to a point. And it was that conflict which could be said to have caused their marriage and family to fall apart. Charles Ryder at first fell in with the traditional values but in the end accepted the whole package.

UPDATE (16 July 2017): Today’s New York Times Book Review is a special issue largely devoted to the works of Jane Austen on the 200th anniversary of her death. In addition to the article mentioned above by John Sutherland, it carries two other book reviews, three feature length essays devoted to Austen and an Austen quiz. One of the other book reviews includes a book by Waugh scholar Paula Byrne who wrote Mad World (what she calls a “partial life” of Evelyn Waugh). The new review covers her second book about Austen–The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood. Reviewer, novelist Jane Smiley, concludes that of the three books covered in her article, Byrne’s “gives us the most insightful analysis of the making of the Austen legacy,”

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