–Duncan McLaren adds a second entry in his new series of posts which involve the imagined visits of Waugh’s friends to this summer’s Brideshead Festival at Castle Howard. In this one, Dick Young (a fellow schoolmaster at Arnold House and the primary model for Captain Grimes in Decline and Fall) travels to Castle Howard in Richard Plunket Greene’s roadster. During the visit, they discuss Young’s career as described in Waugh’s writings and elsewhere. Perhaps the best bit of this discussion relates to Young’s reaction to Waugh’s portrayal of him in his writings. This inspires Young’s counter-description of Waugh:
“…I wanted to write something proportionate to the offence given. After all, Waugh had ended up saying [in Decline and Fall]: ‘Grimes was a life force. Sentenced to death in Flanders, he popped up in North Wales. Drowned in North Wales, he emerged in South America. Engulfed in the dark mystery of Egdon Mire, he would ride again somewhere at some time, shaking from his limbs the musty integuments of the tomb.’”
“Much the same thing could be said of Evelyn. Crucified by She-Evelyn, he fled to Arica. Bored by Abyssinia, he turned up at Madresfield. Rejected by Baby Jungman, he went on a mission up the Amazon in search of a Jesuit. And so on.”
Also included is a description of the display of Young’s ceramic statuettes which, according to McLaren, he bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum.
–On 25 January, the Daily Telegraph ran a story in which it described the reaction of actor Hugh Laurie to a recent offer of a CBE:
…Laurie has confessed that he considered rejecting the most recent honour, before some frank advice from his son persuaded him not to take the path of pomposity.[…] After his deliberations Laurie decided against being “up himself”, and accepted his own award with good grace. The actor and musician believes that honours are simply part of the system in which stars operate, and there is a self-importance to turning them down. […]
“I did wonder about the whole meaning of the thing and whether it is something one should be participating in,” Laurie said of being approached with the offer of a CBE. “But my son came up with something wise, which was that you’d have to be so up yourself to turn it down…
The article concluded with this:
More traditionalist literary figures often associated with the establishment have also snubbed any additions to their name. Rudyard Kipling decided against a knighthood, and Evelyn Waugh turned down a CBE in the Fifties.
A few days later, the Telegraph printed this letter in response:
Honoured up to a point
SIR – On the question of writers’ and artists’ attitudes to the honours system (report, January 25), Evelyn Waugh did indeed refuse the honour of being a CBE, but only because he thought he was worth being made a Companion of Honour.
J C H Mounsey
–DJ Taylor’s book about Cyril Connolly’s literary journal of the 1940s Horizon and the bevy of young ladies who helped him run it (Lost Girls) will be published in the USA later this week by Pegasus Books. It was reviewed favorably last week in the Wall Street Journal by Moira Hodgson and a review will appear in a forthcoming issue of the society’s journal, Evelyn Waugh Studies. For discussions and links to reviews of the British edition, see previous posts.
–A club denominated 5 Hertford Street located in Mayfair’s Shepherd Market district, has announced a Literary and Arts Festival at its premises on 9-16 March. Here’s the announcement from their website:
Justine Picardie, writer and former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country will host a week-long festival of talks at the club, in conjunction with Heywood Hill. Speakers include Erdem Moralioglu (fashion designer), Oriole Cullen (V&A curator and mastermind behind the Dior Exhibition), Daisy Waugh (tarot reading granddaughter of Evelyn Waugh) and other highly acclaimed authors such as Hannah Rothschild, Andrew Roberts and Belinda Harley.
Daisy Waugh will probably discuss her new book In the Crypt with a Candlestick mentioned in our last previous post. For more details consult the club’s website.
–Finally the Australian LGBTQ website Q News has posted a profile of William Lygon. The concluding section includes an explanation of his contribution to one of Waugh’s most memorable characters:
Evelyn Waugh immortalised Lygon when he used him as the model for the character Lord Marchmain in his novel Brideshead Revisited. Widely acclaimed on its release in 1945, the book enjoyed renewed interest with its adaption for television in 1981 and again with a movie adaption in 2008.
Asked about her father before her death, his daughter Sibell remembered a very nice man. “He was a very nice man and he did care so very much about his children. Mother was his greatest mistake and maybe because he was homosexual he made the wrong choice in marriage.” She said the main thing he taught his children was, “Tolerance. Always tolerance.”