Waugh and Baby

The Daily Mail has printed the second and final installment of excerpts from Philip Eade’s new biography of Waugh to be published in July. Having devoted the first installment to his homosexual affairs at Oxford in the 1920s, this article tells about his heterosexual relationships in the 1930s London of the Bright Young People. 

There are, for example, several quotes from Waugh’s letters to Teresa “Baby” Jungman. These were not included in Waugh’s collected letters published in 1980 nor were they mentioned by previous biographers but became available only when Baby Jungman turned them over to Alexander Waugh, Evelyn’s grandson, a few years ago. At that time she was living in Ireland and was about 100 years old. Perhaps the most poignant of these letters quoted here is the one he wrote to Baby in 1933, after over three years of unrequited advances: 

On December 29, he wrote to Baby from a ship bound for Morocco: ‘You will say it was sly to go away without saying anything… But please believe it isn’t only selfish – running away from pain (though it has been more painful than you know, all the last months, realising every day I was becoming less attractive and less important to you) – but also I can’t be any good to you without your love and it’s the worst possible thing for you to have to cope with the situation that had come about between us.’

As it turns out he had, by the time he wrote that, already met the woman who was to become his second wife, Laura Herbert. This occurred in Portofino after he had taken a Mediterrean cruise on which he had met Laura’s sister, Gabriel, who invited him to stop at her family’s villa in Italy on the way back to England. Waugh mentions meeting Laura in a letter written in September 1933 to Katharine Asquith (Letters, p. 80). For some reason, this excerpt seems to suggest that their meeting took place only in 1935 at the Herberts’ home in Pixton Park: “But it wasn’t until January 1935 that Evelyn found a woman who could replace Baby in his affections.” That may be the date when Waugh realized he was in love with Laura, but he had met her more than 15 months earlier. (Martin Stannard, Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, pp. 350-52; Selina Hastings, Evelyn Waugh: A Biography, pp. 284-87)

They were married in April 1937 after the Roman Catholic church had annulled his first marriage. He wrote to Baby shortly before his wedding describing his new wife:

‘She [Laura] is very young indeed. Very thin and pale with big eyes and a long nose – more like a gazelle really than a girl… silent as the grave, given to fainting at inopportune moments, timid, ignorant, affectionate, very gentle, doesn’t sing, Narcissus complex, looks lovely on a horse but often falls off. I love her very much and I think there is as good a chance of our marriage being a success as any I know.’ Baby was godmother to Laura and Evelyn’s first child, Maria Teresa, born in March 1938. Evelyn and Laura remained married until Evelyn’s death aged 62 in 1966.

 

 

 

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