Mark Amory, editor of the 1980 collection of Waugh’s letters and retired literary editor of the Spectator magazine, reviews Philips Eade’s new biography of Waugh in this week’s Spectator. As he began Eade’s book, Amory wondered what more Eade could say in view of previous biographies and copious academic studies: “How much knowledge can he assume? Should he include the best known stories and remarks? On the whole he does.”
Amory, as editor of Waugh’s Letters, recalls his own encounter with one of Eade’s new sources:
Waugh met and fell in love with Teresa (‘Baby’) Jungman, also a Roman Catholic, and assumed that marriage was impossible. (I approached her in the late 1970s, asking if she still had Waugh’s letters to her. She said that she did not wish anyone to see them. I wrote again, as I do not think I did to anyone else, with all the persuasions I could think of about their interest and importance. She refused again with an otherwise amiable letter that began ‘Dear Blackmailer’.) These letters and a memoir by Waugh’s first wife were available to Eade and fill out details of important relationships, but do not radically alter what we knew.
Amory also identifies some new information in Eade’s descriptions of Waugh’s WWII career:
There have been accusations that Sir Robert Laycock, Waugh’s commander and military hero, disobeyed orders and jumped the queue to get away from Crete, while Waugh falsified his official account to cover up for him. Since then, points out Eade, ‘a substantial body of contrary evidence has been excavated’, which goes a long way towards refuting the accusations against Evelyn and his military mentor.
In the same Spectator article, Amory also reviews Ann Pasternak Slater’s newly published study of Waugh’s life and works. This is discussed in a separate post.