A local Oxfordshire news weblog has posted this report of a recent evening of Waugh-related presentations at the Abingdon Arms in Beckley, a village near Oxford:
On June 3rd the pub hosted three emerging talents as the grand finale of the David Bradshaw Creative Writing Residency, a collaboration between the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, Worcester College and the Bodleian Library. Dr Barbara Cooke, current co-executive editor of the Complete Works, introduced the project and read from her new book, a fascinating study of Waugh seen through the lens of locations in Oxford that were important to him, from the railway station, where he helped to organise drunken dinners on steam trains, to his tailors, where he ran up large debts.
Rob Francis then read a series of energetic, visceral poems inspired by Barbara’s research, some composed as he walked around the city in Waugh’s footsteps. A highly polished and engaging performer, even the unfamiliar black country idioms with which he peppered his verses held the audience spellbound.
Rob was followed by a rehearsed reading of Sophie Swithinbank’s Even in Arcadia, a modern retelling of Brideshead Revisited with female protagonists. An engrossing and tightly-paced story of sexual fluidity, alcoholism and addiction, by turns moving and funny, it was enhanced by the electrifying performances of Amelia Holt as Sabrina, Matthew Staite as Joseph and Abby McCann as Charley.
As Dr Cooke said, Beckley has always welcomed writers with open arms – open Abingdon Arms, that is – so our special thanks go to Aimee for keeping the pub open late for this memorable evening.