Hugh Trevor-Roper on Evelyn Waugh (more)

An earlier post here mentioned the publication of One Hundred Letters from Hugh Trevor-Roper. Standpoint magazine has now published a review of the volume, which it had earlier excerpted. In the review, Paul Johnson, friend (or at least acquaintance) of Evelyn Waugh and fellow Roman Catholic, mentions HTR’s rather prickly relations with Waugh:

For social purposes Trevor-Roper was an Anglican but regarded Christianity as inferior to Judaism or even Islam. He had a particular detestation of Catholics, especially converts. The genial Frank Longford, who would go the length of England to help a poor ex-criminal in distress, he dismissed as “an ass”, and he treasured a letter from Lord Birkenhead denouncing Evelyn Waugh in unmeasured terms, though would not refer to it publicly for fear of “incurring the insane malice of his son”, Auberon Waugh.

A copy of the Birkenhead letter was enclosed in a letter HTR sent to Alasdair Palmer relating to Waugh that was among  the earlier Standpoint excerpts, but he told Palmer to destroy it after reading.

Whether the denunciatory letter adds to anything said by Birkenhead elsewhere is hard to say. (Birkenhead had the misfortune of being cooped up with Waugh and Randolph Churchill in Yugoslavia during WWII.) There may be a copy of his letter among the papers of HTR archived at Christ Church College, Oxford. It seems unlikely that HTR would have himself destroyed it after having made such a meal of it in private letters. Moreover, by the time of his death, he no longer needed to fear the “insane malice” of Auberon Waugh, who predeceased him by two years. The letter would make interesting reading.

Thanks to Waugh scholar Prof. Robert Murray Davis for bringing Johnson’s review to our attention.

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