Waugh and Shakespeare

Alexander Waugh, Evelyn’s grandson, in the April issue of the Literary Review, has written an article entitled “Where There’s a Will There’s a Waugh.” He there notes that the anniversaries of the deaths of both his grandfather and William Shakespeare are being celebrated this year–Waugh’s 50th and Shakespeare’s 400th. Both writers also share issues arising from their gravesites. Shakespeare’s may well be empty and is guarded by a curse on any one who tampers with it, as might be necessary to determine whether it is, in fact, occupied. Waugh’s may soon become empty as the result of the impasse over the repair of the wall that separates it from the churchyard at Combe Florey. See earlier posts. As described by Alexander in the article:

If something is not done quickly the next great deluge may very well bring the whole structure crashing down. Waugh’s coffin will slide across the muddy churchyard and smash into a thousand pieces as it slams into a monument commemorating the late Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian Batchelor DSO.

The two writers share other similarities:

…both could be brilliantly comic; each possessed an enviable mastery of the English tongue [but] their success was dependent on very different factors. Shakespeare was a natural genius of stupendous imagination; Waugh was a craftsman whose skill as a writer was drawn from education and personal experience.

The article concludes with a description of their different attitudes toward education and experience as a prerequisite to development of writing skills. Based on this discussion, Alexander offers this advice:

…if you are favored by genius, leave school immediately; otherwise roll up your sleeves, and whatever happens, do not expect to stay for ever in your grave.

The article requires a subscription to be read online. Thanks to David Lull for providing a copy.

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