Naming Characters: Waugh and Fleming

In an article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, Christopher Howse compares the practice of Ian Fleming and Evelyn Waugh to use the names of real persons as characters in their works: “There’s nowt so queer as names.” In Fleming’s James Bond novels, Howse cites Blofeld, named after a cricket commentator who was father of a school friend, and Goldfinger, after a communistic brutalist architect who destroyed two cottages in Hampstead to create a new one for himself. These are compared to Waugh’s having “happily named dubious characters in successive novels after his history tutor at Oxford, C.R.M.Cruttwell.” Cruttwell was dean of Hertford College at the time he taught Waugh, and later its principal. Waugh used the name in three novels mentioned by Howse (plus at least two other novels and two short stories not mentioned), only to stop using it after applying it to an  embezzling scoutmaster. This last would have been in Work Suspended published in 1942 after Cruttwell’s death the previous year.

One of the unmentioned short stories  is perhaps the most prominent example of a Cruttwell appearance. This was a story originally entitled “Mr. Cruttwell’s Little Outing,” first published in magazines in 1935 but retitled “Mr. Loveday’s Little Outing” when it appeared in book form a year later as part of a collection. The Cruttwell in this case was a madman who had a penchant for young ladies on bicycles, based loosely on Waugh’s father, not the Dean. The story was filmed in 2008 by the BBC with Andrew Sachs (best known as Manuel in Fawlty Towers) playing Cruttwell/Loveday. Indeed, it is perhaps due to his persecution by Waugh that Cruttwell merits a fairly extensive Wikipedia page. Finally, Cruttwell and the use of his name as a character were the subject of a research paper delivered by Prof. Donat Gallagher at the recent Waugh conference in Leicester: “Square Pegs in Waugh Circles: C.R.M.F.Crutwell and His Profile.” Professor Gallagher’s tongue was firmly in his cheek during much of the lecture.


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