Profesor Donat Gallagher, one of the leading Waugh scholars and a member of the Waugh Society, has reviewed Philip Eade’s biography of Waugh. The review appears in the weekend edition of The Australian. Prof Gallagher certainly liked the book and fully explains why. According to his review, the book:
is packed with brand new, fascinating information about Waugh, his family, his friends and lovers. As well, it “rebalances” a number of entrenched, skewed perceptions of him as a man and as a soldier. And it is irresistibly readable.
After carefully describing the new information provided from Alexander Waugh’s archive about subjects such as Waugh’s homosexual affairs at Oxford, first marriage and unrequited love affair with Teresa Jungman, Prof Gallagher comes to a matter of greater interest to him–Eade’s description of Waugh’s military career–and concludes:
Eade is the first major biographer to produce the evidence needed for a balanced account of Waugh’s military service.
But he is too modest on this point. Eade relied heavily on and fully credited his sections about Waugh’s wartime experiences to the work of Prof Gallagher in his detailed book on this topic In the Picture published in 2014. The review concludes:
Is this a good book? Yes, up to a point. It is entertainingly informative, funny, moving, readable; and the epilogue is unforgettable. But Eade is a storyteller. Apart from the military passages that refute stated charges, he does not point out what information is new, let alone analyse or discuss its importance. I can only testify, if that is the right word, that I have been researching and writing about Waugh since 1963 and that Eade time and again surprised and delighted me. My picture of Arthur Waugh, for one, is richer, more complex and less flattering than it was. The vivid image of Alec in savage mood entering a room full of people and striking it dumb says more about the relationship between the brothers than a chapter of explanation. And so with the book. What it lacks in analysis it makes up by the cumulative force of new insights that never stop coming.
Prof Gallagher is one of those scheduled to speak at the Evelyn Waugh Conference at the Huntington Library, near Pasadena, California, in May.