Prof. Gerard Kilroy’s 9 September 2021 lecture on “Edmund Campion and Waugh’s Household of the Faith”at Campion Hall, Oxford is available on YouTube at this link.
The illustrated lecture was presented at Campion Hall, Oxford before a live audience and was transmitted live online. It is the first in a series of events planned to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of Campion Hall. Consistent with that event, Prof Gilroy’s lecture began with the story of Evelyn Waugh’s introduction to Fr Martin D’Arcy in connection with his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1930.
Shortly after that, D’Arcy became master of Campion Hall and began a campaign to build a new college to house it. As part of this effort, Waugh volunteered to write a book, the proceeds of which would go into the building fund. Waugh’s original idea was to write a life of Gregory the Great, but D’Arcy suggested Edmund Campion as a more appropriate subject.
Waugh’s book was published in 1936 and won the Hawthornden Prize for that year. This became something of a Golden Age for Roman Catholicism in England. David Jones and Graham Greene also won Hawthornden Prizes for their books In Parenthesis and The Power and the Glory in the next few years. In addition to D’Arcy, Ronald Knox was at Oxford as Chaplain, and they became close friends.
Prof Kilroy also discussed the critical reception and publishing history of Edmund Campion. It went through 6 editions with substantive changes in a revised edition published first by Little, Brown in 1946. As Prof Kilroy explains, these revisions are related to the themes Waugh developed when he was writing Brideshead Revisited, as well as to his experiences in Mexico in 1938, Yugoslavia in 1944-45 and the Nuremberg trials after the war.
He concludes with a description of certain relics relating to Edmund Campion that are held in the collections of Campion Hall. These include two books that previously belonged to Campion and contain his notations, as well as what is described as an Agnus Dei plaque. All of these are illustrated in the accompanying slides.
A brief Q&A session follows the lecture. In the course of that, it was projected that the Complete Works volume 17 containing the text of Edmund Campion and Prof Gilroy’s introduction and notes could be released as early as next Spring. The entire presentation is available on YouTube at the link provided above.
UPDATE (10 September 2021): Brief summary of presentation was added.