Roundup: A Major Auction and News from the Antipodes

–Auction house Bonham’s has scheduled the sale of several of Waugh’s books. These were presentation copies to F B Walker who worked at Chapman & Hall in the period of their publication. Bonham’s describes the importance of Walker to Waugh in its catalogue:

Provenance: F.B. Walker (1910-1993)…Walker was the Production Manager at Waugh’s publisher Chapman and Hall during the war, effectively running the department despite not being on the board. “It was he who had seen Put out More Flags, Work Suspended, and Brideshead through the press, and he and Waugh had a comfortable professional relationship…Walker was the only person left at Chapman & Hall for whom he felt the slightest sympathy” (Martin Stannard, Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966, 1992). In September 1945, when Walker was overlooked for promotion to the Board in favour of John McDougall, Waugh resigned his directorship of the company in disgust. Subsequently he continued sending Walker warmly inscribed copies of his later books; by descent to the vendor.

There are twelve books available in lots 81-92 (from Work Suspended to A Little Learning). This includes a specially bound copy of the pre-publication issue of Brideshead Revisited (lot 82):

Brideshead Revisited. The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, AUTHOR’S PRE-PUBLICATION PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED “For F.B. Walker whose pre-natal care made the book possible, with gratitude from Evelyn Waugh” on the front free endpaperhalf-title, “T.H. Saunders” watermark to title and dedication leaf, pencil numeral “353” on final page “304”, contemporary morocco-backed cloth, lettered “F.B. Walker” in gilt on upper cover, t.e.g., others untrimmed, 8vo, Chapman & Hall, 1945 [1944]



Printed in a run of fifty copies at his own expense in 1944, Waugh sent these pre-publication copies to his closest friends and associates to garner opinions, after which he revised the text prior to the first trade edition published in the following year. Copies were issued in printed green wrappers, but this copy has a special bespoke binding stamped with the recipient’s name on the upper cover.

The estimated price for lot 82 is £5,ooo-£7,000. The auction is scheduled for 14 November at 14:00 pm at Bonham’s in Knightsbridge. Here’s a link to lot 82 from which you can scroll up or down to the others and find the details of the auction and bidding procedures.

–A recent issue of The Australian newspaper has a story about memorable characters from fiction. This is by Greg Sheridan and was inspired by the awfulness of Kenneth Branagh’s recent portrayal of Agatha Christie ‘s Inspector Poirot. It opens with this:

…I can’t say whether Peter Ustinov or David Suchet was the greatest Poirot. Both were a bit ahead of Albert Finney. But Branagh is monstrous. He’s been a puzzle to me, this Branagh. I can see why people get the impression he’s a great actor, but I’ve never been wholly convinced, much less moved, by any part I’ve seen him play. He’s like one of those fringe test batsmen who has a perfect technique but never scores any runs. All of which is a longwinded way of getting to my point. Who, in all of literature and film, is your favourite, most memorable character? […]

In literature you tend to have many favourites – Jeeves, Bertie, Lord Emsworth, Psmith – just from P.G. Wodehouse alone. The compellingly dreadful Kenneth Widmerpool from Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, and his evil twin, Apthorpe, from Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy

–Another Australian journal has posted an interview on this topic. The interview of the Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers appeared in the Financial Review. When asked about his favorite book, Rogers answered:

I read a fair bit. If I were to re-read some book a few times it would be the Sword of Honour trilogy by Evelyn Waugh without doubt. It’s something I thoroughly enjoyed and I have read it a few times.

Publishers Weekly has posted an interview of Anglo/Venetian author MA Bennett that was conducted at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your hugely successful St. Adian the Great (STAGS) boarding school series?

A. I was brought up in the grounds of a stately home in the Yorkshire Dales, where my grandmother was the housekeeper. My mum was a working single parent so I was looked after by my gran, and the ‘big house’ became my playground. Gran used to work at the weekend hunting parties the family hosted, and the inspiration for STAGS was to imagine what would happen if a cohort of privileged teens planned a hunting weekend at one of their stately homes with no adults present. And then, what would happen if they brought three misfits from their elite private school, and hunted them over the weekend instead of animals?


Q. Are there any authors that you particularly admire, or who you feel have influenced your story telling?

A. Evelyn Waugh. I grew up on Brideshead Revisited (just like Charlie Spring in Heartstopper!). The theme of an outsider entering the world of a stately home, with a bit of Venice thrown in, really chimed with me. I would say that is the one book which had the biggest influence on STAGS.

Heartstopper is a young adult webcomic which was made into a successful TV series on Netflix. It was written by Alice Oseman.

–The Guardian has quoted Waugh in a story about this week’s double between England and South Africa, with World Cup competitions in both cricket and rugby:

When Evelyn Waugh wrote in Brideshead Revisited of “a blow, expected, repeated, falling upon a bruise with no smart or shock of surprise, only a dull and sickening pain and the doubt whether another like it could be borne,” he was surely prophesying Jannie de Beer’s five drop goals in the 1999 quarter-final.

This obviously refers to the rugby match.


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