Alastair Graham and Steven Runciman (more)

In a recent post we mentioned a weblog article that described the friendship or affair between Waugh’s Oxford friend Alastair Graham and historian Steven Runciman. The book cited in that article (Outlandish Knight by Minoo Dinwash) sheds additional light on this matter and contains some details that differ from those described in the article:

Runciman and Graham met in Turkey, not Greece as stated in the article. The meeting took place in 1937 at the residence of Sir Percy Loraine, then HM Ambassador to Turkey. Graham is described as “attached to the Embassy” but Runciman was only visiting. Dinshaw goes on to write that “Graham, characteristically, left no great impression” (Ibid., pp. 220-221). Later, Dinshaw elaborates a bit based on correspondence with another of Runciman’s friends, David Pinckney, whom Runciman met in New York in 1978. Pinckney refers to Runciman’s “long-ago, brief meeting with Alastair Graham…at Sir Percy Loraine’s table in Istanbul.” At this point, Dinshaw inserts a footnote about Runciman’s relationship with Graham. This footnote is described as “extensive” in the blog post but is in fact only three lines: “Steven had, however, thought Graham worth his while enough to photograph him, and pointed out this snap while showing his younger guest [i.e., Pinckney] his albums at Elshieshields, after sufficient wine had been taken” (Ibid., pp. 530-31). This would have been more than 40 years after their meeting in Turkey, so Alastair must have made some impression.

Although not mentioned in either the blog post or the Runciman biography, Alastair had previously served in the British Embassy in Athens where Percy Loraine also had a diplomatic post in the late 1920s. This was probably explained in Duncan Fallowell’s book How to Disappear which is cited in the weblog. Waugh described in Labels (p. 149) a 1929 visit to his “friend Alastair” in Athens who was working at the Embassy. Steven Runciman was also posted to Athens by the British Council, but that was just after the war.


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  1. Pingback: Alastair Graham, Steven Runciman and More Misfits | The Evelyn Waugh Society

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