Evelyn Waugh and Clare Balding’s Great Grandfather

In the latest episode of the BBC’s series Who Do You Thing You Are?, the subject is their sports presenter Clare Balding. As a member of the LGBT community, she is interested in finding out if any of her ancestors were inclined that way. Her first investigation takes her to the grandson of  Sir Malcolm Bullock (1890-1966) who was her great grandfather on her mother’s side. Bullock was a Conservative MP 1923-53 and was rumored to have had an affair with painter Rex Whistler in the early 1930s. Bullock’s wife (Balding’s great grandmother), nee Lady Victoria Stanley, had died in a hunting accident in 1927. Balding is shown several letters from Bullock’s archives, including one from Evelyn Waugh. The subject relates to a mutual  female friend or acquaintance about whom they are gossiping. Alas, we only see the last page (06:21) with Waugh’s signature, so do not have the date. There are references to Bullock in Waugh’s published letters but no letter to Bullock is included. Waugh mentions to his wife having lunch with Bullock in 1945 and recalls Bullock’s  interest in American undertakers in a 1962 letter to Nancy Mitford. There are no letters from Bullock to Waugh archived in the Evelyn Waugh Papers at the British Library.

Balding’s research does not pursue Bullock’s friendship with Waugh but does look into the Rex Whistler archive in Salisbury to find some support for there having been a brief affair or flirtation with Bullock in 1931. Bullock was also a friend of Philip Sassoon and his coterie that included Bob Boothby, Chips Channon, etc., so Balding concludes that, at least after his wife’s untimely death, Bullock was probably homosexual or bisexual. The program is reviewed in today’s Daily Telegraph. It may be viewed over the internet on BBC iPlayer for about 4 weeks, but this will require a UK intenet connection.

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