Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday cites several diary entries from English writers, dating back to Samuel Pepys in 1662, in which they describe how they spent Christmas. Waugh’s diary for 25 December 1924 is among those quoted. This was his first Christmas after leaving Oxford earlier that year without his degree:
Evelyn Waugh, the author, aged 21: “I have decided to grow a moustache because I cannot afford any new clothes for several years and I want to see some change in myself. Also, if I am to be a schoolmaster it will help impress the urchins with my age. I look so intolerably young now that I have had to give up regular excessive drinking.
“Christmas Day always makes me feel a little sad; for one reason because strangely enough my few romances have always culminated in Christmas week – Luned, Richard, Alastair. Now with Alastair a thousand miles away and my heart leaden and the future drearily uncertain, things are not as they were. My only letter this morning was a notice of a vacancy from Truman & Knightley [the educational trust].
“There are coming to dinner tonight Stella Rhys and Audrey Lucas and Philippa Fleming. I should scarcely think it will be a jovial evening.”
After the New Year, Waugh began his short-lived career as a school master. Audrey Lucas had a romantic interest in Waugh at this time when he was infatuated with Olivia Plunkett Greene (Hastings, 125-34). Other entries of interest include those of Virginia Woolf (who spent her holiday in 1931 concerned for the health of Lytton Strachey), Raymond Asquith (in a 1913 Christmas message to Diana Manners, later Diana Cooper, enclosing Beardsley drawings in an effort to cheer her up) and Noel Coward (recording his “delicious” Christmas dinner in 1946, a time of darkest austerity).