Earth Day Roundup

–Several other papers have run stories about the sale of Combe Florey House. The most extensive photographic displays are in the Daily Mail and Country Life which also have brief discussions of the Waugh family’s associations with the house. The local Somerset County Gazette  also has a photo display and has this to say about the house’s history:

Combe Florey is a delightful Grade II listed 18th century manor house with an appealing classical facade in the style of James Gibbs. It is believed an earlier Elizabethan house was situated closer to the village church and was pulled down after the Civil War. It is understood to have then been replaced by a new house at the present site. The 17th Century house was extensively remodelled by William Frauncies in 1730. The property was sold to the Perring family in 1799 and sold again in 1896 to the Batchelor family before being purchased by Evelyn Waugh in 1956 and lived in by his family until 2008 when the present owners acquired Combe Florey House.

–Jeremy Clarke in his column in The Spectator describes a recent hike along a rare, unspoiled section of the French Mediterranean  coastline:

…unlike the soulless grey boulders or mud brown sand that passes for a beach elsewhere along that coastline, the beaches here are of fine white sand. I looked down into the first low headland into the sea, and I was reminded of Graham Greene’s memorable assessment of Evelyn Waugh’s prose, which was, he said, “like the Mediterranean before the war: so clear you could see to the bottom.

–A feature length story about the Mitford sisters appears in the Evening Standard. This is focused on the literary work of Nancy Mitford and announces that the BBC will next month broadcast a new adaptation of a Nancy Mitford novel:

[Nancy Mitford’s] work is about to become a lot more familiar to those that don’t know it. A luscious adaptation of The Pursuit of Love, her most famous novel, will air soon on the BBC with an all-star casting including Lily James and Andrew Scott. Expect big houses, gorgeous clothes, cut-glass accents and everyone falling dreadfully, dreadfully in love. It’s well known that the novel, which is set between the world wars, was largely autobiographical – so what’s the true story behind her life?

It is not clear from this article whether the series will be limited to an adaptation of  only The Pursuit of Love itself or will contain the stories as well from the other novels in that series Love in a Cold Climate and Don’t Tell Alfred.

–George Callaghan has posted a memorial to Auberon Waugh on the 20th anniversary of the latter’s death in 2001. After an entertaining and accurate summary of his early life and career in journalism, Callaghan offers a retelling of Auberon’s brief political career in opposition to Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party. The article concludes with this:

One of the perhaps surprising things about [Auberon] Waugh was his anti police attitude. In this he was an 18th century Tory. He regarded them as bossy boots, nanny staters and incipient totalitarians. He loathed a nosey parker and a jobsworth. This sort of petty tyrants infuriated him. He also made a name for himself as the foremost anti working class journalist. He reviled plebeians as uncouth, unlettered, unwashed, uncultured and brutish. Waugh despised the urban metropolitan liberal elite no less.

Though unfailingly mannerly he was also vulgar. He did not stint from swearing. The police were there to manage the crowds at Waugh’s funeral. As Waugh’s son Alexander said nothing would please his father more for there to have been a riot at the funeral. Waugh is sorely missed.  He was forthright, fearless, mordant, morbid, scintillating yet exasperating. There shall never be anyone like him anymore.

The full text is available at

–The Oxford-based journal Cherwell asked its editors to recommend books set in universities as appropriate reading for students returning for Trinity Term. Books editor Maebh recommended Brideshead Revisited:

Amidst the news that there will be a new film adaptation of this classic novel written by Waugh in the 1940s, I decided to pick up and finally read a copy of it during the two weeks of isolation I went through in Michaelmas term. Whilst I was confined to my small bedroom, Waugh’s evocation depiction of 1920s Oxford made me nostalgic for the Oxford I had experienced before the pandemic; the joys of roaming around colleges, meeting new people, and the highs and lows of university life. In a weird way, I guess, it gave me a sense of belonging, the characters being described as strolling down the very same street that I lived (and was then isolated) on. Waugh’s memorable characters, his powerful evocation of a country both during and after the two World Wars, and his beautiful prose style makes this novel a joy to read, and an essential for anyone who has, or will, live in Oxford.

The other recommendations were Philip Larkin’s Jill set in wartime Oxford and Elif Batuman’s The Idiot set in 1990s Harvard.

–Finally, on the website Literary Hub, novelist KT Sparks considers what she calls “Graceless Literary Exits”. Among her choices is this one by Evelyn Waugh:

Tony Last—the genial exemplar of a social set in which “any sin is acceptable provided it is carried off in good taste”—spends the second half of A Handful of Dust trying hard to leave—his marriage, his faithless friends, his country—with the greatest dignity and refinement. And yet each of his attempts at grace only move him closer to one of the funniest—and saddest—graceless exits in print: declared dead back in Britain, Tony’s last scene is in an Amazonian village, far from his beloved country estate, forced to re-read Little Dorrit to his captor, an illiterate Dickens fanatic.

Others include Mr Collins’s ejection in Pride and Prejudice and Krook’s spontaneous combustion in Bleak House.

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