CWEW Diaries Volume Previewed in Sunday Times

The Sunday Times becomes the first paper to preview a volume of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh. The first four of these will be published at the beginning of September, in less than two week’s time. One of those to be published is Precocious Waughs, volume 30 of the complete works and the first of several which will contain Waugh’s “personal writings”, primarily letters and diaries. These are edited by Alexander Waugh, Evelyn’s grandson, and Alan Bell. Alexander is also General Editor of the entire project, which he expects will take a decade to complete.

The Sunday Times article by Dalya Alberge, entitled “Punch-ups revisited”, notes that the childhood diaries in this first volume are appearing in print for the first time. They have been available to readers at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas for many years but were not included in earlier publications, according to Alexander Waugh, “because biographers have been more interested in his ‘impossible and rude behaviour’ as an adult.” As described in the Sunday Times, the diaries are:

… illustrated with dozens of his sketches, they reveal that one of the 20th century’s greatest writers was a witty youngster who was unafraid of a fight. His many punch-ups there are described in words and sketches that convey rough-and-tumble energy. One entry records the consequences for a boy who repeatedly mocked his name as “Wuffles”: “I informed him that, unless he refrain using my name in a corrupted form, I would have to chastise him. He, knowing that he was larger than me, continued in the name whereupon I fulfilled my promise one hundredfold.”…

Alexander Waugh has allowed himself one joke in the edition: “There’s one moment in the diary where he says, ‘Will future editor kindly omit from published version. E.A.W.’ I’ve put a footnote, ‘No. A.E.M.W.’ I couldn’t resist that . . . He had no idea he might be addressing his grandson.”

The childhood diaries referred to are for the period 1914-16 when Waugh was between the ages 10-12.  This volume also includes other personal writings for the period 1903-21 and ends with Waugh’s departure from Lancing College. Other volumes to appear on September 1st in the UK include Rossetti: His Life and Works, Vile Bodies, and A Little Learning. Another volume previously announced for early release was Essays, Articles and Reviews 1922-34. The UK publication date for that volume is now reset for November. All five of these volumes have November release dates in the USA.

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