Waugh: Letter and Portrait

A letter from Evelyn Waugh to Hugh Heckstall-Smith was auctioned earlier this week. A copy is still posted on the internet. The year is missing from the date but it is sent from Combe Florey so would have been sent in the last decade of Waugh’s life. Here’s the excerpt:

ALS signed “E. Waugh,” one page, 6 x 8, Combe Florey House letterhead, September 11. Letter to Hugh Heckstall-Smith. In part: “Yes Spencer was my informant…His suicide, I now remember, was autumn 1941 at Hayling Island. I knew him only as a Marine but saw quite a lot of him. He was a keen officer but full of frustrated ambitions (I thought). As far as I know he was in no disciplinary trouble & his death came as a surprise to all in the Corps. I suspected him of Communist sympathies, perhaps quite wrongly.” Continuing, Waugh refers to J. F. Roxburgh, adding: “Did J. F. not appoint his own Masters? At Lancing they were chosen from the most suitable of the assistant Masters. J. F. never had any sexual or romantic interest in me…Looking back I see J. F. as a show-man in the best sense. Great style, but a dangerous model for the young. I hear his trusty tones in many voices.” In fine condition, with a few rusty staple holes to the upper left corner.

“Spencer” refers to a Capt Spencer mentioned by Waugh in letters to his wife. He was serving with Waugh in the Marines. Letters dated 22 January 1940 and [October] 1941. His suicide was reported in the latter (Letters, p. 156). Of what he was Waugh’s “informant” is unclear. J F Roxburgh taught at Lancing College. Hugh Heckstall-Smith was a school teacher and taught for a time at Gordonstoun. He is probably the author of A Doubtful School Master (1962). The British Library holdings of Waugh’s archives show a fairly active correspondence for a two-year period:

ff. 20-42v Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh, novelist: Hugh Heckstall-Smith: Letters to Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh from Hugh Heckstall-Smith: 1962-1964.

That would be 22 pages of incoming correspondence. If any of our readers has a copy of his book or knows more about Heckstall-Smith or the aforesaid correspondence, comments are invited below.

The Salisbury Museum is holding an exhibit of the paintings of Henry Lamb. This includes Lamb’s portrait of Waugh which was the cover illustration for Evelyn Waugh and His World. Here’s a description from the Persephone Post:

Henry Lamb’s famous portrait of Evelyn Waugh is in the Salisbury Museum exhibition. It’s 1930, Waugh was 27, and the painting is rather poignant because Waugh became such a grumpy old man, here all is before him.

The exhibit continues through September after which a smilar exhibit will be mounted in the Poole Museum. Details here.

UPDATE: According to BL files, the correspondence with Heckstall-Smith began in 1962, the year his book was published. The above text has been modified accordingly.

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