Dr. Barbara Cooke, Research Associate at the University of Leicester for the Complete Works of Waugh project and editor of the volume containing Waugh’s autobiography A Little Learning has posted an article about how Waugh’s life at Oxford is reflected in that work. She also compares that description with the Oxford passages in his fiction. Her article concudes:
In his first term at Oxford, Waugh recounted a “subdued” happiness in adopting a sober and restrained undergraduate life. “A pity he didn’t continue,” opines Rowse. But what if he had? Could Waugh have written Brideshead Revisited if he had never loved Graham, or created Anthony Blanche without meeting Acton and Howard?
Rowse, son of a clay miner and holder of the “one miserable university scholarship for the whole county of Cornwall”, had every right to resent what he saw as Waugh’s wasting of an opportunity for which he, Rowse, had fought hard. But there was more than one kind of education on offer in Waugh’s Oxford; and in his case, a little learning was quite enough to engender a rich legacy of comic, lyrical and unforgettable works.
A.L. Rowse was a student contemporary of Waugh at Oxford and later a Fellow of All Souls and is included in a photo posted with this article. The full article is posted on the academic website The Conversation. The Complete Works A Little Learning volume is co-edited by the late John Howard Wilson who also founded the Evelyn Waugh Society and and was editor of its journal.