Names (Yet More)

In today’s Daily Express there is another story inspired by Time magazine’s recent misclassification of Evelyn Waugh. The story begins with a short review of Wavian names:

The late author of Brideshead Revisited might have been tickled by the error. He always loathed the name Evelyn. “In America it is used only for girls and from time to time even in England it has caused confusion as to my sex,” he lamented in his autobiography. Mind you, he called his own son Auberon – also a rather twisted writer – who bizarrely waged war on the name Glenda, declaring that the very thought of Glenda Jackson turned men homosexual.

In his autobiography from which the quote is taken, Waugh also explained that his first name, Arthur, which he never used, was from his father, and his second name, Evelyn, was a “whim” of his mother. The source of his third name, St. John, no doubt pronounced “Sinjin”,

was absurd. I had a High Church godfather who insisted that I must be given the name of a saint. They might have left it plain John, but instead added the prefix of sanctity, thus seeming to claim a spurious family connection (A Little Learning, p 27).

Auberon would appear to have been named for his maternal uncle, Auberon Herbert, although the matter is not without controversy. As Auberon explained in his autobiography:

It was curious that my father ever agreed to my being called Auberon since he had never enjoyed very cordial relations with my Uncle Auberon who, as head of my mother’s immediate family, might have been flattered by the choice. From quite an early stage, my father announced that I had been called not after my mother’s brother but after her first cousin once removed, the Auberon (“Bron”) Herbert who, as Lord Lucas, died a hero’s death over the German lines on 3 November 1916 (Will This Do?, p. 32). 

The story in the Express online edition is headed by a photo of Evelyn and his wife, Laura. This is from November 1950 and was taken at the Plymouth docks on their arrival back from their last trip to America aboard the Ile de France. Martin Stannard, Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years, following p. 108, identifying a different photo from the same session.

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