Auction Sale of Two Waugh Letters

An online auction is offering for sale a 1945 letter from Evelyn Waugh to a Conservative MP. This relates to the policies of the British Government in Yugoslavia during and after WWII. Here is the seller’s listing info as posted on the internet:

Autograph Letter Signed, to Member of Parliament Thomas Cecil Russell Moore, reporting that he [Waugh] wrote an anonymous letter to a British newspaper and gave information to the editor of another concerning what he learned in Yugoslavia [while serving in the British Army], accusing the Conservative Government of supporting Communist revolution, accusing Conservative MPs Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden of betraying the allies, and offering to meet to share whatever information he had about the situation in Yugoslavia. 2 pages, 4to, personal stationery; minor staining from staple at upper left corner, horizontal fold, faint scattered soiling. (SFC)
Stinchcombe, 5 November 1945

“. . . My experience of Jugo-Slavia was limited to Croatia which I left in March of this year & from which I have had no news since. On my return to this country I wrote two letters to the ‘Times’ newspaper signed ‘A British soldier lately in Jugo-Slavia’; I also put all the information I had at the disposal of the editor of ‘The Tablet’ who has made effective use of it. (I do not know whether you ever see that valuable journal.) I also made a full report on the question of the Catholic Church in Croatia to the Foreign Office, which I believe has been fairly circulated. In an interview with Lord Burnham I was expressly forbidden to show this report to any private individuals.

“I do not know what a private member of Parliament,–or indeed a Minister–can do about the grave crimes that are being committed in Jugo-Slavia. A British Conservative Government armed and officially recognized the Communist revolution. A Conservative Government condoned the annexation of Lithuania . . . . When that was done I sequestered myself from all political allegiance and rejoice at the party’s swift humiliation. I do not think Mr. [Ernest] Bevin would have dared, or wishes, to betray our friends as Mr. Churchill & Mr. Eden did. . . .”

The offering by (Lot 0168) also includes correspondence to the same MP from other parties relating to this issue and copies of the MP’s responses to Waugh. This item was being sold by a NY auction house, and it is noted that the bidding closed on 7 March 2024. Whether or not it was sold is unclear.  For details see this link.

Also on offer separately is a 1957 letter from Waugh to a University of Leicester academic relating to Waugh’s work on the biography of Ronald Knox. Here is the description of that:

A.L.S., Evelyn Waugh, one page, 4to, Combe Florey House, near Taunton, 18th September n.y. (annotated 1957 in pencil in another hand), to [H. P. R.] Finburg. Waugh states that it was good of his correspondent to have written and remarks ‘All that you tell me is of great interest. I need all the help I can get if I am to make a book about Ronnie [i.e. Ronald Knox] which will not rile his multitude of friends’, further commenting ‘I think that tho’ he was entirely without ambition he was a little hurt by the ingratitude of official England. If he had been an atheist he would have had had (sic) the O[rder of] M[erit].’ Waugh concludes his letter by asking if Kibworth is located near to his correspondent and if they have ever visited the vicarage, explaining ‘I should be interested to know if it is at all like the description in ‘Reminiscences of an Octogenarian’ (Bishop Knox) nowadays’. A letter of good association and interesting content. VG

H. P. R. Finburg (1900-1974) English historian, typographer and publisher who was head of the Department of English Local History at Leicester University.

Kibworth was the village near Leicester where Ronald Knox was born. It seems that Waugh was looking for information about it when he wrote to Prof. Finburg. There is no mention of the professor in Waugh’s preface where he acknowledges other contributors to his research. This is being sold by an auction house located in Spain and bidding is open until 14 March 2024. For details of bidding on the letter re Knox (Lot 1180) see this link.



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