Waugh and the Magnet

Blogger George Simmers has recently posted on his weblog Great War Fiction a report of his visit to an exhibit of volumes from Philip Larkin’s personal library. This was at the University of Hull where Larkin served at the Librarian. In addition to the expected examples of works by Larkin’s contemporaries, he was impressed to find a substantial collection of issues of the Magnet, a schoolboy magazine. This was the journal “in which ‘Frank Richards’ each week delivered new instalments of the exploits of Harry Wharton, Billy Bunter and co. at Greyfriars School.” The blogger also found Waugh’s works well-represented in Larkin’s personal library and was inspired to make this connection:

If ever I write another thesis it will be on the influence of Frank Richards on later twentieth century literature. The prime exhibit will be Evelyn Waugh (who is also well represented on Larkin’s bookshelves.) Waugh was a keen reader of the Magnet while at school (an illicit reader, but all the keener for being illicit); the bold caricaturist style of his satire shows the influence of Richards, I’d say – though he went further, and in Llanabba created a school even more gloriously bizarre than Greyfriars.

The Larkin exhibit closed on 1 October.

In another reference to Waugh’s schooldays, Lancing College has posted a photograph and description of the house he lived in as a student. This is called “Head’s” and is described in the website:

With space for seventy-five day boys, Head’s is the largest House in the school. First occupied in 1857 as the Headmaster’s boarding House, it has since been converted into generous accommodation for the day boys at Lancing.

Waugh’s residency is also briefly noted under the history of the house:

The novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote about his experience as a boy in Head’s in the early 1920s. Other well-known alumni of the House include the tenor Sir Peter Pears, the historian Sir Roger Fulford, the artist Frederick Gore, the Arctic explorer Gino Watkins, Judge Peter Birts and the footballer Andrew Frampton.

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3 Responses to Waugh and the Magnet

  1. We know from his autobiography that Waugh enjoyed the ‘Magnet’, but did the magazine see the first appearance of his name in print? A 1916 issue contains notices from readers asking for back issues. E. Waugh, of 33 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, N. wants to buy the numbers of the ‘Magnet’ in which Vernon-Smith and the famous Five are expelled.
    Is Evelyn Waugh connected to this address? Or is it another North London E. Waugh? Any suggestions?
    You can see the ad towards the end of an article at: https://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/who-read-the-magnet/

  2. Jeffrey Manley says:

    I don’t think Evelyn Waugh was ever connected to this address, at least not as a resident. He lived in a terraced house on Hillfield Road in West Hampstead for his first three years. The family then moved to North End Road NW (considered part of Hampstead) which was later designated NW11 when that postal numbering system was developed making it part of Golders Green. That is where he would have been living in 1916. He never had another permanent residence in London. It’s possible he was using a friend’s address in Kensal Green for delivery of these magazines if he didn’t want his family to know he was buying them. More likely, however, this is simply another Waugh with that first initial.

  3. Jeffrey Manley says:

    In the comment below it should be noted that Waugh did briefly have a London residence at Canonbury Square, Islington in 1928-29 during his first marriage.

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