Waugh in Happy Valley

A recent story in the Tatler recounts the present day difficulties of the British aristocrats and their descendants who settled in that country’s area known as Happy Valley during the days of the Empire. The story centers on three members of this group who died in recent years, two in police detention and one in hospital. In the course of its discussion, the story quotes Evelyn Waugh: 

And after visiting Kenya in the 30s, Evelyn Waugh described the [Happy Valley] group as “a community of English squires established on the Equator”, although even Waugh, no slouch when it came to a party, baulked at their behaviour. He described Raymond de Trafford, one of the set, as “v. nice but so BAD and he fights & fucks & gambles and gets D.D. [disgustingly drunk] all the time”.

The first quote comes from Waugh’s travel book Remote People (Penguin, 2011, p. 221). The second comes from a letter to Dorothy Lygon, dated April 1932 (Letters, p. 64).  According to Mark Amory’s notes, de Trafford was involved in an incident at a Paris railroad station in 1927 in which his wife (the former Comtesse de Janze) shot him and then herself. At her trial he gave evidence on her behalf, and she was released after paying a small fine. The story in the Tatler is credited to Sophia Money-Coutts.

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