Alec Waugh Remembered

The current issue of The Oldie has a memoir by Alexander Waugh of his Uncle Alec. He was known in the family as “Uncle Sex” and the memoir is written on the 100th anniversary of the publication of his novel Loom of Youth which discussed homosexuality among public schoolboys. In 19i7 this was quite scandalous. He was rarely a visitor at the Waugh home in Somerset, and Alexander learned of his death in 1983 from a friend in Taunton who heard about it on the radio. An excerpt is available on the internet but a subscription is required to read the full article.

The previous issue of The Oldie made an allusion to Evelyn Waugh on its cover, referring to an article by Rachel Johnson (sister of Boris) as “Love Among the Ruins”, the title of Waugh’s 1953 dystopian novella. In the article (entitled “Alms and the woman”), Johnson imagines future life in an almshouse and opens with a reference to Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited (“If you were driving up the Clerkenwell Road, you will have passed it: London’s version of the ‘low door in the wall that opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden’, that so enraptured the young Charles Ryder when he popped along to Brideshead.”) Thanks to Milena Borden for letting us know about this.

UPDATE (18 August 2017): Alexander Waugh’s Oldie article seems to be the source of an item in the Daily Mail’s gossip column by Ephraim Hardcastle. This relates to Evelyn Waugh’s 1957 libel suit against the rival Daily Express:

Under oath Alec gamely conceded that Evelyn was the much greater novelist. Evelyn got £5,000 in damages–£50,000 now. Recalls Alexander: ‘Alec, wearing a foulard scarf and a stripy blazer, left the court before the verdict was announced, cheerfully returning to his busy sex-life in Tangier.’

Since the reported incident occurred several years before Alexander’s birth, he must be recalling some one else’s recollection, not his own.

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