Alexander Waugh Replies: Whose Howlers?

In a previous post, we noted Lewis Jones’ selection in The Spectator of Alexander Waugh’s recent book on the identity of Shakespearian authorship as a book of the year. Jones had some reservations about the book, to which Mr Waugh has now replied in this week’s issue:

Pointing out howlers

Sir: As many Spectator readers will be aware, Stratfordian scholars are short on facts, which is why a whole industry is now built around the task of correcting their howlers. In a short paragraph adverting to his literary tastes, Lewis Jones complains of a ‘book’ by a ‘scholar’ (why the inverted commas?) which he calls ‘sensibly priced at £0.00’ and which he believes ‘argues that Shakespeare’s works must have been written by a proper toff’ (Books, 18 November). Into this muddle he facetiously drags my grandfather, Evelyn Waugh, claiming that he ‘scraped a third at Hertford’.

Where shall I start? Evelyn Waugh did not ‘scrape a third at Hertford’, he never graduated from Oxford or anywhere else. The title to which Jones refers (Shakespeare in Court) costs £1.74, which is the average price of a Kindle-Single, and it does not argue that a ‘proper toff’ or any other candidate wrote Shakespeare’s works, but simply lays out the facts that demonstrate why orthodox assumptions about Shakespeare are incorrect. Jones has neither bought nor read this book — that much is obvious — so did we really need his error-strewn opinions on it?
Alexander Waugh
Milverton, Somerset

In other news relating to previous posts, more reviews have been posted (all favorable) of the ongoing stage production of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (adapted by Roger Parsley) in Adelaide, Australia. These appeared in (Barry Lenny), (Anthony Vawser) and (Valerie Lillington). The production by Adelaide’s Independent Theatre Company at the Goodwood Theatre continues through Saturday (25 November).

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