Dramatist of WWII Yugoslavia Profiled

The Islington Tribune has published a profile of playwright James Hugh Macdonald. He has written a play called Happy Warriors based on the experience of Evelyn Waugh and Randolph Churchill in wartime Yugoslavia. (See previous posts.):

James Hugh Macdonald, a former soldier, diplomat and politics lecturer, turned to writing for the stage after the death of his wife and partner. He started work on Happy Warriors almost a decade ago. The 91-year-old, who lives on the top floor of a converted school in Angel, said he was “thrilled” at the prospect of seeing the play performed at Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gate­house theatre from Wednesday. “The great thing about Happy Warriors is that I enjoyed the work and the writing of it. But the professionals have been delighted by it too,” he said. […]

Happy Warriors, set in a farmhouse in Topusko, a small town in Croatia, formerly Yugoslavia, is based on a true story from World War II. The comic plot sees author Evelyn Waugh, best known for Brideshead Revisited, antagonised by Randolph, son of Winston Churchill, and also features a “belligerent” young cook. Mr Macdonald said: “When I read that Waugh and Churchill had been together in this farmhouse in Croatia and Waugh had got Churchill to read the Bible in a week, that seemed to me a godsend plot.

Waugh used his experience to describe Guy Crouchback’s service in Yugoslavia in his Sword of Honour trilogy. Waugh’s presentation copy of that book to Maurice Bowra is listed in a recent auction catalogue. It sold for £1100. The inscription is a simple one expressing Waugh’s “affectionate regards” for Bowra.

Plum Sykes, novelist and granddaughter of Christopher Sykes, Waugh’s friend and biographer, is interviewed in a recent issue of the Daily Telegraph. The interviewer asks her to identify her favorite books and among them is Brideshead Revisited, also written and set in WWII. Here’ s her explanaion for that choice:

My paternal grandfather was a writer and virtually best friends with Waugh. The sections of this book set in Oxford inspired me to go there.

Her latest novel (a mystery) is set in present-day Oxford and is entitled Party Girls Die in Pearls.

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