Other Waughs

British mystery writer Christopher Fowler has posted a brief article on his internet site entitled "Waugh Stories" in which he considers the literary careers of Waughs other than Evelyn. He begins with Evelyn's older brother Alec:

...He’s been described as the poor man’s Somerset Maughan, and as the author of over fifty books, is proof that output has little to do with inspiration...As he aged, his literary subjects reduced themselves to discursions on alcohol and his family...

Next up is Evelyn's oldest son Auberon who enjoys a better reception:

He tackled five novels in his early career and then gave up, fearing comparisons with his father. They’re nicely written and often funny, but rather pointless and divorced from the real world. In his writing, Auberon had something of the old man’s spikiness, but with far less discipline...Becoming a newspaper columnist clearly suited his talents better, and his political writing for the Spectator constitutes some of his finest work... 

Finally, he mentions Evelyn's youngest daughter, to whom he refers as Kate but who is better known in this parish as Harriet (her given name and the one under which she writes) or Hetty:

Unexpectedly, it was Evelyn’s daughter, Kate Waugh, who returned lustre to the family’s literary heritage by combining a sharp wit with powerful stories in books like ‘Kate’s House’ and ‘Mother’s Footsteps’.

Her first book was published in 1973 and her most recent, The Chaplet of Pearls, in 1997. She also writes occasionally for The Spectator.

Fowler's own career spans over 40 books, mostly thrillers including a series involving a pair of detectives, Bryant & May. In another recent post, Fowler has announced that his next book in that series will involve a country house theme and will owe something to other "country house" novels such as, inter alia, Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust. He also writes (or wrote) a column for the Independent called "Invisible Ink" about forgotten writers. See earlier post. According to his Wikipedia entry, many of his books contain literary allusions. Any of our readers familiar with Fowler's works and who know of any allusions to works of Waugh's is invited to comment.

Posted in A Handful of Dust, Alec Waugh, Auberon Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Waugh Family | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Handful of Dutch

The Dutch business/economic journal Het Financieele Dagblad opens a story entitled "Tragish Akkoord" (Tragic Agreement) with a paragraph about Waugh's novel A Handful of Dust. This is written by by Ferdinand Grapperhaus and involves a complex political deal relating to labour rights in the Netherlands :

Evelyn Waugh was a master of the tragic satire. [That is the literary form in which, in our perverse enjoyment of the main characters, even we the readers are pulled into terrible events where we start laughing.* ] Thus, Waugh describes in A Handful of Dust an upper class couple living together, who completely neglect their only child and leave it to heartless nannies and uninterested butlers  - all described hilariously. Eventually, during a hunt, no one is watching, and the boy is trampled to death by a horse. Waugh arranges that all stakeholders arrive late at the scene of the accident, and closes the chapter with the ominous sentence: They all agreed it was nobody's fault.

* This sentence was originally deleted due to translation problems. A better translation has now kindly been provided by one of our readers, David Woods.  It is reproduced here in both the original Dutch and the Google translation:

Dat is de literaire vorm waarbij wij in ons leedvermaak om de hoofdpersonen worden meegelokt naar verschrikkelijke gebeurtenissen waarbij zelfs ons, lezers, het lachen vergaat  (Google Translation: That is the literary form in which we are lured into our schadenfreude for the protagonists to terrible events which reduces us readers to laughter.)

The sense of the article seems to be that in 2013 the parties to what they thought was an  agreement on a  politically sensitive labor problem now confront each other with the same conclusion-- that what they thought was an agreement wasn't, perhaps because no one was paying sufficient attention, but it's nobody's fault. 

UPDATE (18 January 2017): A better translation has now been provided for bracketed sentence in the text. See comment below. Many thanks to David Woods for his help.

Posted in A Handful of Dust, Newspapers | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Pub in Combe Florey Damaged in Fire

A fire last week in The Farmers Arms, a pub in Combe Florey, damaged the structure and forced its closure pending extensive repairs. This was reported in the Somerset County  Gazette. According to a later report on ITV news, the pub was frequented by Evelyn Waugh during his years in residence at nearby Combe Florey House. No doubt, Auberon and his family were also patrons of the establishment. Parts of the structure dated to the 15th century, according to one report. The thatched roof was among the parts that were destroyed. One of the regulars told the press: "It's a tragedy, it's the main place to meet people in Combe Florey." The owners hope to repair the damage and continue the business. 

Posted in Auberon Waugh, Combe Florey, Newspapers, Television Programs | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Eade Biography (More)

Writer and critic Martin Rubin has reviewed Philip Eade's biography in the Washington Times:

Although there have been several other excellent biographies of Evelyn Waugh, this is perhaps the most penetrating and insightful one to date. Part of this is because of a great deal of newly available material, some of it thanks to Waugh’s grandson Alexander, who suggested this biography to mark the 50th anniversary of the author’s death in 1966. .... New letters, interviews and a host of other sources are all put to good use. 

The review also concludes on a favorable note:

For all the value of the newly available sources and the good use to which Mr. Eade has put them, in the end it is his biographical skills and crisp way with words and phrase that make this such a valuable tool for understanding the perplexing figure of Evelyn Waugh. If all his psychological acuity cannot finally reconcile the man and his oeuvre, he has probably gone as far in doing so as possible.

Posted in Alexander Waugh, Biographies, Books about Evelyn Waugh, Newspapers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blanche, Hat, Malpractice and Seal

Author Elisa Rolle, who chronicles the lives and travels of notable members of the LGBT community, has posted some of her reviews and ramblings relating to Brian Howard, Waugh's contemporary from Oxford days. These miscellaneous excerpts apear to have been first published in her ongoing series of books Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time and Queer Places: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ People Around the World. In the Brian Howard excerpts she mentions, for example, that he lived at Cobblestone House (formerly Nore House) near Godalming, Surrey which was later occupied by actor Dirk Bogard. The house is described in detail and a visit by Waugh's friend and fellow writer Daphne Fielding during Bogard's residence is mentioned (Queer Places, v. 2):

A great platonic love of [Brian's] was Daphne Fielding, and although she never saw him at Nore, when she went to stay with Dirk and Tony (Anthony Forwood), she “was conscious of Brian all the time, and his own very particular atmosphere seemed to dominate even Dirk's.”

In another excerpt from Rolle's books (Queer Places, v. 3) she describes Waugh's connections with Brian:

He was one of the Hypocrites group that included Harold Acton, Lord David Cecil, L. P. Hartley and Evelyn Waugh. It has been suggested that Howard was Waugh’s model for Anthony Blanche in “Brideshead Revisited.” Waugh wrote, to Lord Baldwin: "There is an aesthetic bugger who sometimes turns up in my novels under various names -- that was 2/3 Brian [Howard] and 1/3 Harold Acton. People think it was all Harold, who is a much sweeter and saner man [than Howard]." In the late 1920s, he was a key figure among London’s "Bright Young Things" - a privileged, fashionable and bohemian set of relentless party-goers, satirised in such novels as Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 "Vile Bodies" where the character of Miles Malpractice owes something to Howard. .... In 1929 he was famously involved in the "Bruno Hat" hoax when the fashionable Hon Mr & Mrs Bryan Guinness promoted a spoof London art exhibition by an apparently unknown German painter Bruno Hat ... [During WWII] he referred to his commanding officer as “Colonel Cutie” (a trait Evelyn Waugh gave his rebellious rogue Basil Seal in the novel "Put Out More Flags") ... Evelyn Waugh wrote: "I used to know Brian Howard well—a dazzling young man to my innocent eyes. In later life he became very dangerous—constantly attacking people with his fists in public places—so I kept clear of him. He was consumptive but the immediate cause of his death was a broken heart."

As described in another of Rolle's "Ramblings," Howard committed suicide in 1958 a few days after his companion, according to Rolle, died accidentally from gas inhalation at a villa in the South of France occupied by Brian's mother. Waugh wrote to Bloggs Baldwin in the same letter where he discusses Brian's death that his companion had  "gassed himself." A footnote refers to a postcard sent 2 months later in which Waugh corrects himself on this point, noting that Brian's companion "died suddenly but naturally in his bath"  (Letters, p. 505-06).


Posted in Brideshead Revisited, Letters, Put Out More Flags, Vile Bodies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Several bloggers have commented on or recommended the works of Evelyn Waugh in the past week. In Antick Musings, Andrew Wheeler recommends Waugh's first novel Decline and Fall which he recently read for a second time:

Decline and Fall focuses intensely on the English social and class system of its day -- as it was already beginning to crumble around the edges under the weight of modernity, the Great War, and the pressure of an unsustainable empire... This is actually one of Waugh's sunnier novels, with something like a happy ending. And that ending might help some readers to miss the satire along the way ... But early Waugh is one of the great nasty writers of all time, and his books are particularly good for those who spend too much time watching PBS costume dramas about the struggles of the deserving rich, with their four-hour dinners and their endless plans for advantageous marriages.

Another blogger (Casey Chalk) writing in Catholic Thing recommends Sword of Honour for its Roman Catholic viewpoint. After summarizing Guy Crouchback's disappointing experience in WWII, Guy's religious beliefs are brought to bear:

This is no heroic, good-versus-evil tale like “Patton” or “Saving Private Ryan,” but an epic pervaded by irony and deep cynicism regarding English bureaucracy and objectives. In spite of all this, Waugh does not leave the reader with the typical existential disenchantment in post-World War II literature. Rather, Guy remains a quiet but faithful Catholic in spite of failure and disappointment. That’s most visible in Guy’s determination to save 100 or so elderly Jewish refugees seeking exfiltration from Yugoslavia, while other British officers are advancing their careers or simply surviving... [Finally] towards the end of the trilogy, his estranged wife discovers she has been impregnated by one of Guy’s fellow officers. Unable to procure an abortion, she humbly begs Guy to take her – and the offspring of a man Guy detests – under his protection. These kinds of choices invite ridicule and social alienation. Guy notes that saying yes was “not the normal behaviour of an officer and a gentleman.” ... Waugh writes: “in a world of hate and waste, he was being offered the chance of doing a single small act to redeem the times.” 

Finally, Tod Worner posting on Aleteia recommends G K Chesterton's works to Roman Catholic readers, a point on which Waugh would agree. When Waugh lectured to audiences at US Catholic colleges and unversities in 1949, Chesterton was one of the three British convert writers Waugh himself recommended--the other two were Ronald Knox and Graham Greene. Worner also recommends the biography of Chesterton by Maisie Ward as a helpful aid to understanding Chesterton's work but overstates things a bit on one point:

Ward (of the famous Catholic couple and publishing firm, Sheed and Ward, which brought the world Christopher Dawson, Ronald Knox, Jacques Maritain, Hilaire Belloc and Evelyn Waugh) puts Chesterton in context… no small feat when contending with a genius of millions of words and countless insights. 

Sheed & Ward were a relatively small firm that specialized in books by and about Roman Catholics and were responsible for the first US edition of Edmund Campion in 1935. They commissioned and published it jointly with Longmans, Green & Co. which issued the UK edition. This was a period of transition in Waugh's US publishers. His previous book Handful of Dust (1934) was published in the US by Farrar & Rinehart, and he had no US publisher for his next, Waugh in Abyssinia (1936). Little, Brown then picked him up, after having published a limited edition of Mr Loveday's Little Outing and Other Stories, also in 1936, and became his regular US publisher with Scoop in 1938. R M Davis, et al., Bibliography of Evelyn Waugh (1986, pp. 8-11). So Sheed & Ward stepped in at a helpful time to assure US publication of Edmund Campion but could hardly be said to have "brought Waugh to the world."



Posted in Bibliophilia, Catholicism, Decline and Fall, Edmund Campion, Sword of Honour | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Graham Greene and Helena

Peter Harrington Books has posted a long list of Waugh rare and first editions which includes several items of interest. A "featured" item is an uncorrected proof of Brideshead Revisited (estimate £15,000). This is not one of the 50 presentation copies, but the contents are probably identical. This would be like the copy that Waugh marked up and sent back to the printer from wartime Yugoslavia that is now archived at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. The are 2 or 3 presentation copies that include messages of interest. For example, in Bob Laycock's copy of Scoop, Waugh wrote: "No journalist/From Evelyn/Failed in the trade." In a copy of the first US edition of Officers and Gentlemen, Waugh wrote to an otherwise unidentified Fr Vincent: 

“Dear Fr. Vincent, I hope that bits of this may amuse you. I am sorry to send an American copy. It cost twice as much as the English, so perhaps it is twice as good. I don’t like the wrapper at all. Yours sincerely, Evelyn Waugh”.

The major attraction among these lots is the presentation copy of Helena which Waugh sent to Graham Greene. This is printed on large size hand-made paper and is signed by Waugh with no message. The sellers have produced a video displaying the book and provide what purports to be a description of the correspondence between the writers about it. But they only looked at Waugh's side of the correspondence. The seller's video makes two claims about the book which they would not have made had they also read Greene's letters: they claim (1) that Greene "reviewed" the book; and (2) that he never read it through, citing as evidence the fact that most of the pages were uncut. In fact, there is no record that Greene reviewed the book nor did he tell Waugh that he had done so. He says in a letter dated 26 October 1950 acknowledging receipt and thanking Waugh that he had read a truncated version of the book in The Month with "enormous interest" and now would read the complete version. But he went on to say that he would buy a reading copy because "I can't mark a limited edition & I never feel I own a book [illegible]." Graham Greene, A Life in Letters, pp. 178-79. Whether he ever read the book from cover to cover is impossible to say from the evidence available. He did, however, in a subsequent letter to Waugh sent before 16 November 1950 write:

I must write a hasty line to say how much I like Helena. The truncated version in The Month didn't do it justice. It is a magnificent book. I think particularly fine & moving was Helena's invocation to the three wise men...

Waugh acknowledged that letter on 16 November and thanked him "awfully for writing about Helena," clearly referring to Greene's letters, not any review: 

I hardly hoped you would like it. I am hugely exhilarant to hear you do. Most of the reviews I have seen have been peculiarly offensive...(Letters, pp. 340-41)

A bit of research might show whether the passage about the wise men Greene singled out was included in the excerpted version or whether he would only have known about it if he had read the entire book. But his letters do not suggest that Greene "cheated," as the bookseller's video claims, by reviewing a book he hadn't read. The estimate for Greene's largely uncut copy is £25,000.

Posted in Auctions, Autographs, Bibliophilia, Brideshead Revisited, First Editions, Helena, Letters, Officers and Gentlemen, Scoop | Tagged , | Leave a comment

"Lady Beevor"

Novelist Sebastian Faulks writing in his "Diary" column in this week's Spectator comments on the knighthood recently awarded historian Antony Beevor. Sir Antony, as he will now be addressed, is best known in this parish for his book Crete: The Battle and the Resistance in which he characterized actions of Evelyn Waugh and some fellow officers in the 1941 battle as contrary to orders. His conclusions were rebutted by Donat Gallagher in his study In the Picture and, more recently, in the biography by Philip Eade. Faulks offers the following comment on a side effect of the knighthood:

Antony tells me that Artemis Cooper, his wife and his equal in writing talent and affability, will be sticking to her own name. This is a pity, because nothing would combine Evelyn Waugh and Beatrix Potter quite like ‘Lady Beevor’. Perhaps she’d consider allowing a select few to call her that.

Artemis Cooper is the grand daughter of Diana Cooper. Although her father is Lord Norwich (second Viscount), she apparently doesn't have (or doesn't use) the courtesy title The Hon. (or would it be Lady Artemis?). If she did, would that not take precedence over Lady Beevor (or would it be The Hon. Artemis Beevor)? It was confusion over this point that caused Anthony Powell to turn down a knighthood (or at least that was his explanation). His wife was entitled by birth to be addressed as Lady Violet and he feared she would be downgraded if she were mistakenly addressed as Lady Powell. On the other hand, your correspondent may be the one who is confused. These titles are a minefield perhaps better avoided.

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Waugh's Favorite Bookstore Profiled in Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair has published a brief history of Heywood Hill Books located in London's Mayfair district. This is written by Francis Wheen. The shop was for many years Waugh's favorite bookstore (or one of them at least). It was located next door to his barber, facilitating frequent visits, and was managed by his friend Nancy Mitford during WWII when its owner and founder was on active service. It was during her tenure at the bookshop that her regular correspondence with Waugh began. She left in 1945 after her income from Pursuit of Love freed her from the need to work:

Evelyn Waugh described the wartime shop as “a centre for all that was left of fashionable and intellectual London,” and it sounds like a riotous party. According to one chronicler, “All the literary beau monde and half the Free French Army were there.” When a rival bookseller shook his head over how small the premises were, Mitford explained that her customers “love being pressed bosom to bosom.” 

Waugh also described the shop in a letter to Dorothy Lygon dated 23 March 1944 as "the one centre of old world gossip left" (Letters, p. 182). It now belongs to the Duke of Devonshire who inherited it from his father in 2004. It went through rather a bad patch after its longtime manager John Saumarez Smith retired in 2008. But a suitable replacement was eventually found in the person of the Duke's son-in-law Nicky Dunne. Although he had no experience in the book trade he loved passing the time in bookshops and has applied that to an advantage by turning the business around:

He appears to have been a quick learner. Annual turnover is back over £1 million. Heywood Hill will never compete with Amazon on price or the height of its stockpile, but what it can offer, like the Mayfair gents’ outfitters in nearby Savile Row, is bespoke tailoring that understands customers’ requirements more precisely than would a mere algorithm.

These special services include a book club tailored to the personal preferences of each member and the compiliation of complete libraries for individuals or even commercial accounts such as hotels. The shop is still located at 10 Curzon Street, W1.

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Waugh's Scarf

The Croatian newspaper Jutarnji Vijesti (Morning News) published in Zagreb has a longish article about Waugh's career in Yugoslavia in WWII and his connections with that country afterwards. The story opens with a description of a silk scarf on display in Rijeka. This is an example of a scarf worn by British aviators in WWII that was designed to be insoluble in water and displayed accurate road networks to facilitate escape routes for those in downed aircarft:

The scarf on display belonged to the English pilot [sic] and writer Evelyn Waugh who in 1944 survived a crash somewhere in the area of Petrova Gora...It is the original "escape map" that was worn by English pilots; this was confirmed in conversation with Mladen Urem, [who is related to a Dr Kučić, who in turn is said to have treated Waugh after the crash and was given the scarf.]... Urem, who donated the scarf to the museum in Rijeka, explains that the origin of the scarf is an "urban legend" but does have a factual basis.  Waugh actually survived a plane crash in 1944 in the area of Petrova Gora, and in this area a Dr. Zdravko Kučić was head of the IV. Army medical corps. Doctor Kučić after 1945 became the director of the Rijeka hospital, which now bears his name. After all, Waugh described 1944 events in Croatia in a novel--reports Urem-- and this is the most interesting fact related to the story of the silk scarf.

The article goes on to describe Waugh's service in Yugoslavia, his identification of Marshall Tito as a woman, and his preparation of a study of church-state relations in the aftermath of the war. The story also says that Waugh's war trilogy Sword of Honour (Počasni mač) could not be printed in a Croatian (or at the time Serbo-Croatian) translation while Tito was still alive. After his death, all three volumes were published separately in a 1993 Croatian edition. The cover from volume 3, Unconditional Surrender (Bezuvjetnoj predaji), which deals with Guy Crouchback's Yugoslavian experiences, is reproduced in the article. There are also several other interesting photographs, including one of Waugh with a group of soldiers and a detail from the scarf. The translation is by Google with considerable editing and simplification. Here's the full translated version but, be warned, it is fairly rough.

UPDATE (11 January 2017): The translation from the Croatian newspaper has been modified to clarify that Dr Kučić was given the scarf during the war and one of his heirs donated the scarf to the museum in Rijeka.

Posted in Newspapers, Sword of Honour, Unconditional Surrender/The End of the Battle, World War II | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment