In a recent column in The Independent, D.J. Taylor describes the evolution of the concept of middle age. He invokes the writings of Evelyn Waugh to illustrate the attitude toward middle age of those bright young people who were young adults in the 1920s.
Waugh writing in January 1929 bemoans the “Peter Pans of middle age who block the way.” According to Taylor:
The people Waugh is complaining about, it transpires, all those “ex-captains and majors” from the Great War stymying the younger generation’s chances of preferment, are barely out of their thirties.
Waugh was writing in the Evening Standard in an article entitled “Too Young at Forty.” It is reproduced in Essays, Articles and Reviews at p. 45.
As Taylor explains, after WWII life expectancy and incomes increased and middle age expanded to include those well above the 40s. Within these years, the occurrences of the “mid-life crisis” and “male menopause” were added. No doubt if he had lived beyond post-war middle age, Waugh would have also had something interesting to say about these concepts,