London booksellers Peter Harrington have a 1945 copy of Brideshead Revisited on offer. This is a presentation copy to Mgr Alfred Gilbey, chaplain to Roman Catholic students at Fisher House, Cambridge University. There is also an unpublished letter from Waugh relating to an upcoming lecture he will give at Fisher House. This is explained on Harrington’s website which also posts detailed photos of the book and a copy of the letter:
An excellent presentation copy of Waugh’s most enduring novel, inscribed by him on the title page to the Catholic chaplain of Cambridge University, “Alfred Gilbey from Evelyn Waugh 1945”, and with an accompanying autograph letter signed presenting the book. Monsignor Alfred Gilbey (1932-1965) was chaplain of Fisher House, the Catholic Chaplaincy to the University of Cambridge.
The accompanying letter, which is signed “Yours ever Evelyn”, is dated 16 October and confirms his forthcoming lecture “to the Fisher on Nov 18th”. “I wonder if you saw this novel of mine. They only printed about a dozen copies so most of my friends never read it. I managed to get hold of a copy the other day. Here it is.” He also asks after present members at Fisher House, which had been converted to a rehabilitation centre for wounded RAF personnel, “Ex-service 25 years old? Invalid? Young men doing courses in telegraphy from the R.A.F.?”.
This copy is of the “Revised Edition”, the second trade edition, published in the same year as the first.
Waugh reports on his visit to Cambridge in his diary entry for 21 November 1945:
…a day devoted to irksome duty […] talking to humourless, grubby undergraduates. The audience at the Fisher seemed largely non-Catholic. I was asked many questions, many irrelevant or unintelligible; again, I was assured with apparent sincerity that the paper had been an unusual success. [Diaries, p. 638]
In an earlier entry, he explained that he was giving the same talk to undergraduates in Oxford and London. The paper was about the “Yugoslav situation” (he described an early version as “feeble”), but it does not seem to have been published contemporaneously in the print media. (Bibliography, pp. 95-96).