Roundup: Inez, Cecil and Paddington Bear

–In this week’s New Statesman, D J Taylor reviews the life and work of Inez Holden, an early friend of Evelyn Waugh in the days of the bright young people. The article opens with this:

Inez Holden’s diary – a mammoth undertaking, only fragments of which have ever escaped into print – carries a rueful little entry from August 1948. “I read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh,” the diarist writes. But the tale of Charles Ryder’s dealings with the tantalising progeny of the Marquess of Marchmain, here in an unfallen world of Oxford quadrangles and stately pleasure domes, awakens a feeling of “nostalgic depression”. This, Holden decides, is simply another of “those stories of High Life of the Twenties which everyone seemed to have enjoyed but I never did”.

By this point in her career, Holden … was a 20-year veteran of the London literary scene – and also of some of the more spangled redoubts beyond it. She starts turning up in magazine columns in the late Twenties: not as a writer but as an ornament of the hot-house enclosure stalked by the small group of party-goers and well-heeled socialites known as the Bright Young People. Evelyn Waugh’s diary for May 1927, written when he was briefly attached to the Daily Express, mentions “a charming girl called Inez Holden who works on the paper”.

The press photograph of the “Impersonation Party” …  a legendary Vile Bodies-era rout in which each guest came as somebody else, depicts a throng of exotic cross-dressers. Stephen Tennant masquerades as Queen Marie of Romania. The actress Tallulah Bankhead, white-costumed with racquet in hand, imitates the tennis player Jean Borotra. In the middle of the tableau sits a small and inconspicuous girl in a Breton jersey. Of the celebrities stationed nearby, Elizabeth Ponsonby (the archetype of Waugh’s Agatha Runcible) and Harold Acton are clearly having the time of their life, but Holden looks nervous, ill at ease, a rabbit caught in the flashbulb’s intoxicating light.

Holden’s book reviewed by Taylor was published last year by Handheld Press and is entitled There’s No Story There: Wartime Writing’s 1944-45.  It includes a “novel” originally published in 1944 and based on Holden’s experience working in a wartime munitions factory as well as three short stories from the same period.

The Spectator has an article about the importance of marmalade to British culture:

It took Paddington Bear to solve the age-old mystery of what the Queen keeps in her handbag. When Her Majesty pulled out a marmalade sandwich during the pair’s sketch at the Platinum Jubilee concert this summer, it did more than just tickle the audience. It also served to remind us of our national love affair with marmalade.

Long before Paddington developed a taste for it, the preserve had been a stalwart of British popular culture, from Jane Austen (where Lady Middleton applies marmalade as balm for her daughter’s scratch) to Evelyn Waugh (where, in Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder eats ‘scrambled eggs and bitter marmalade with the zest which in youth follows a restless night’) – not to mention Samuel Pepys, Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming. During the second world war, Winston Churchill is said to have stressed the need to keep the boats of marmalade oranges coming to maintain national morale.

–Cecil Beaton’s diaries have been adapted for the stage. The adaptation is by Richard Stirling and is reviewed in Here is an excerpt:

…Beaton was a noted diarist and Richard Stirling has taken verbatim extracts of the diaries to create a fascinating portrait of the man and his motivation. Cecil Beaton’s Diaries has been thoughtfully curated to present the many different and not always complimentary aspects of Beaton’s life and work. A product of the wealthy middle classes, Beaton was terrified at the prospect of mediocrity but soon gained acclaim as a fashion photographer on both sides of the Atlantic. […]

Stirling’s portrayal gives us an honest, entertaining personal account of a life lived firmly behind the camera lens. Brittle and uncompromising, Stirling’s Beaton is also painfully aware of his shortcomings and regrets lost loves as age and ill-health bear down. Despite his glamorous clientele, he appeared to remain that nervous, softly spoken schoolboy, terrorised by Evelyn Waugh and destined to find the beauty in others.

The adaptation is being performed in Edinburgh at Greenside@Nicolson Sq where it will run through 28 August. Although not mentioned, it is probably offered as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

–As reported in The Independent newspaper, British Airways has announced direct service to Georgetown, Guyana beginning next March. Waugh’s connection with that country is cited in the story:

The former colony was described by the writer Evelyn Waugh as one of the “gobs of empire” – along with the French and Dutch possessions on the shoulder of South America, Guyane and Surinam respectively. A map of the country is enticing. The road from Georgetown to the Surinam border, for example, passes through the settlements of Success, Paradise, Profit and Whim.

Waugh wrote about his travels in what was then British Guiana in his 1934 travel book Ninety-Two Days. A fictional version appeared in his short story “The Man who Liked Dickens” and the novel A Handful of Dust. He returned for a visit in 1962 and wrote about it in The Sunday Times: “El Dorado Revisited” (EAR, p. 592).

–Novelist Sebastian Faulks is interviewed in the Guardian’s series “The Books of My Life.” Here’s an excerpt:

The author I came back to
I couldn’t stick Evelyn Waugh at first, but I got there eventually by reading the Sword of Honour trilogy in 1991, when we were living in a remote farmhouse in Italy with our first child, who was a year old. Afterwards, I found A Handful of Dust and my ear became attuned to his prose. I still wish he’d used that gift on more worthwhile subjects, but there you go.


Posted in Brideshead Revisited, Newspapers, Ninety-Two Days, Sword of Honour, Theater | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roundup: Eliot, Milton and Stonewalling

–The current issue of the Journal of the T S Eliot Society (UK): 2022 contains an essay entitled “Different Voices: Evelyn Waugh and The Waste Land.” This is by William Myers who is presumably the author of Evelyn Waugh and the Problem of Evil (London: Faber, 1991). He was born in Dublin in 1939, educated at Oxford and retired as Professor of English at University of Leicester in 1999. Copies of the Journal are available from this link.

–An article entitled “Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945) and Milton’s Areopagitica: The Satirist in Spite of Himself” by Clay Daniel was recently posted on the internet. It originally appeared in ANQ: Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews but no date of publication is provided. Here’s a link to the online version.

–The literary critics of the Independent newspaper have compiled a list of the “40 best books you need to read before you die”. One of the choices is Brideshead Revisited:

Evelyn Waugh bottles the intoxicating vapour of a vanished era in this novel about the middle class Charles Ryder, who meets upper class Sebastian Flyte at Oxford University in the 1920s. Scrap the wartime prologue, and Charles’s entire relationship with Sebastian’s sister Julia (Dear Evelyn, Thank you for your manuscript, a few suggested cuts…) and you’re looking at one of the most affecting love affairs in the English language (Chris Harvey).

The Spectator has posted a list of what its writers are reading on their summer holidays. Here’s an excerpt:

Peter Jones
Most of my holidays have been taken giving talks about the ancient world to travellers on boats, an extremely agreeable way of passing the time but not without its duties and obligations. My reading matter therefore takes me back into familiar comfort zones, guaranteeing irresponsible, honest pleasures on every page, exemplified by P.G. Wodehouse (High Stakes) and Evelyn Waugh (Scoop).

–Gareth Roberts also in The Spectator has an article in which he explains how “stonewalling” by government officials and others seeking to avoid unfavorable news has recently been carried to new heights. Here’s an example where Waugh is cited:

The Biden administration has escaped from recession simply by changing the definition of recession, with Big Tech in the shape of Wikipedia rewriting its definition to suit. This is something you might expect to find in one of Evelyn Waugh’s travelogues of failed states of the 1930s.


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Roundup: From MoI to Antifa

–University of London has posted a history of Senate House, a large modern building on its campus near the British Museum. It housed the Ministry of Information (“MoI”) during WWII. Waugh features in the discussion:

Literary descriptions of Senate House while the Ministry was in situ are less than flattering, with Evelyn Waugh’s character in Put Out More Flags finding it difficult to enter the building, thinking that ‘all the secrets of all the services might have been hidden in that gross mass of masonry.’ Graham Greene described ‘the Ministry’ as a ‘high heartless building… where the windows were always open for fear of blast and the cold winds whistled in’ (Penguin New Writing).

George Orwell, whose wife worked in the building in the later years of the war, also used Senate House as the model for his Ministry of Truth in 1984.

— Jake Kerridge writing in the Daily Telegraph discusses changes novelist Ben Okri recently made to his 2007 novel The Last Gift of the Master Artists. The article begins with this:

A novel is not always finished when it’s finished: books can worry away at their authors for years after publication. Evelyn Waugh revised Brideshead Revisited (1945) in 1959, shearing it of some of the lush, ornate prose that had been a reaction against wartime privations. Jeffrey Archer rewrote his 1979 debut Kane and Abel in 2009 to give it the benefit of three decades’ experience as an author, removing many candidates for The Oxford Book of Terrible Sentences….

Revisions to Brideshead were implemented from its very beginning. Waugh made substantial changes to the page proof which he nevertheless distributed without the revisions as Christmas presents in 1944. Less substantial changes were also made in later UK editions before the 1959 rewrite. In the US, his 1944 corrections were included in the 1946 trade and book club editions, but there were no further changes I am aware of until after his death–i.e., the 1959 revisions probably did not appear in US editions (such as numerous Dell paperback reprints) until the 2000s.

The Spectator writes about the recent turmoil in Sri Lanka and opens the discussion with this quote from a Waugh novel:

In Evelyn Waugh’s classic satire Black Mischief, the fictional African country of Azania welcomes an English delegation from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at a gala dinner. In the after-dinner speech, given by the Azanian Minister for the Interior, it becomes clear that there is a slight misunderstanding about the Society’s objectives:

‘It is my privilege and delight this evening to welcome with open arms of brotherly love to our city Dame Mildred Porch and Miss Tin, two ladies renowned throughout the famous country of Europe for their great cruelty to animals. We Azanians are a proud and ancient nation, but we have much to learn from the white people of the West and North. We too, in our small way, are cruel to our animals…’At this point, Waugh explains that the Minister ‘digressed at some length to recount with hideous detail what he had himself once done with a woodman’s axe to a wild boar’.

I sometimes think that the mess that countries like Sri Lanka get themselves in is perhaps due to a similar ‘lost in translation’ phenomenon…

–Novelist Julian Barnes recently gave a talk about his book collecting experiences. This was in connection with Christies’ charity auction (“First Editions, Second Thoughts”) in aid of English PEN (which is, I assume, an affiliate of PEN International). Here’s an excerpt that involved some of Waugh’s books:

I had always assumed that those who loved books were high-minded and honest, rather in the way that I’d always assumed that gardeners were high-minded and honest. Then I discovered that some of the latter would carry concealed secateurs and have poachers’ pockets sewn into the inside of their coats for the contraband they would pick as they made their way round rare and famous gardens. I was at the Lilies [a large upscale British secondhand book store] and spotted a book I had sought for a very long time: a first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s second novel, Vile Bodies. In matters of Evelyn Waugh, I was, and still remain, a completist – for instance, I own a copy of the first Belgian edition, with pages uncut and original wraparound band, of Waugh’s Scoop, published under the title Sensation! (Do I hear a sharp intake of envious breath? Perhaps not.) I took the copy of Vile Bodies from the shelf, opened it, observed the very reasonable price, and realised that it was in fact a second impression. Well, I didn’t want that. Then I read the pencilled name of the original owner:  John Hayward, the editor, bibliophile and close friend of T. S. Eliot. And beneath it was a note in his hand reading ‘left on my shelves in place of my own first edition.’ I was deeply, genuinely shocked. I imagined the thief laying his plans, coming fully prepared with his copy of the second edition in the equivalent of a poacher’s pocket, and quickly, surreptitiously, swapping them over.

Thanks to Dave Lull for sending a link. A complete copy of Barnes’ presentation can be viewed at this link.

–The religious journal Crisis magazine has an article on the origin of the term “anti-fascist” and the newer form “antifa”. It opens with this quote from a Waugh short story:

One way to shed light on the term antifa is to look back to 1949, when the Anglo-Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh published his quasi-autobiographical short story “Compassion,” set in rural Yugoslavia during World War II. Depicting a well-meaning albeit hapless British liaison officer forced to work with some obnoxiously pushy Communist partisans, Waugh contrasts the down-to-earth if naive mindset of a middle-class Englishman with the narrow-minded ideology informing socialist guerilla cells. At one point, for instance, the Communists invite Major Gordon to a celebration:

“The Anti-Fascist Theater Group was organizing a Liberation Concert and had politely asked him to supply words and music of English anti-fascist songs, so that all the allies would be suitably represented. Major Gordon had to explain that his country had no anti-fascist songs and no patriotic songs that anyone cared to sing. The Commissar noted this further evidence of Western decadence with grim satisfaction. For once there was no need to elaborate. The Commissar understood. It was just as he had been told years before in Moscow.”

The “anti-fascist theatre group” is also mentioned in Waugh’s novel Unconditional Surrender (p. 296) in which much of the text of “Compassion” was used, with Guy Crouchback standing in for Major Gordon. In the novel an “anti-fascist choir” also performed.


Posted in Bibliophilia, Black Mischief, Brideshead Revisited, Put Out More Flags, Scoop, Short Stories, Unconditional Surrender/The End of the Battle, Vile Bodies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerhardie, Waugh and Boyd

Novelist William Boyd has written an essay for The Spectator about the influence of William Gerhardie’s novels on several British novelists of the interwar period. It is entitled “Evelyn Waugh’s sincerest form of flattery.” Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

Graham Greene, Anthony Powell, Olivia Manning, Katherine Mansfield and many others later testified to the impact that reading [Gerhardie’s] early novels made on them. Evelyn Waugh was no exception. In a letter written later in life when Gerhardie had hit hard financial times and the literary world was getting up a collection of funds for him, Waugh sent in his check and added: “As you no doubt recognized, I learned a great deal of my trade from your own novels.” Waugh read Gerhardie when an undergraduate at Oxford — Waugh’s first novel, Decline and Fall (1928), was very Gerhardian. In the 1930s Waugh admitted to a mutual friend, “I shall never be as good as he. I know I have great talent, but he has genius.”

As a near obsessive reader of Waugh’s work and as someone with an intense curiosity about the man he was, I found these admissions — these confessions — both surprising and revelatory. Waugh was not the sort of person to consign himself happily to second place, and I felt there must be a clue to the formation of his particular tone of voice and the Wavian view of the human condition in this oblique and very unusual praise. It wasn’t Waugh that took me to Gerhardie, but as I read my way through Gerhardie’s many novels, particularly the early ones, I was repeatedly struck by how closely Waugh’s sense of humor and his take on life resembled Gerhardie’s. It seemed to me that a more forensic examination of the older writer’s influence on his younger contemporary might be worthwhile.

I decided to look closely at two books published not far apart: Gerhardie’s third novel, Jazz and Jasper (1928), and Waugh’s second, Vile Bodies (1930). Jazz and Jasper is an oddity. It was commissioned as a serial by Lord Beaverbrook (a great champion and new friend of Gerhardie) and designed to run in the Daily Express. It never did, in fact, though Beaverbrook paid Gerhardie the $350 he promised (about $25,000 today). When the book eventually appeared as an orthodox novel it was something of a success, but not an overwhelming one. It’s a measure of Gerhardie’s fame at the time that the cover of the first edition was simply a portrait of the author’s face. It’s hard to imagine that happening today — let alone ever — for a new work of fiction.

Boyd goes on to discuss in some detail particular passages and themes of Vile Bodies, elements of which can be traced to Gerhardie’s novel Jazz and Jasper (in America Eva’s Apples). He also notes Gerhardie’s distaste for Virginia Woolf (some one whom Waugh rarely praised) and discusses the influence of Gerhardie’s novel on the comedy of Scoop. Boyd also notes that Gerhardie greatly admired the works of Chekhov and helped introduce Checkhovian influences into English writing. Boyd’s article concludes with this:

Eventually, Gerhardie’s career went into a slow and relentless decline, though he regarded his failing fortunes with stoical resignation. He published no new writing in the last thirty-seven years of his life — as Evelyn Waugh’s star inexorably rose. Today, the one is justly feted, and the other is unjustly forgotten. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot: “Mature novelists steal — and good novelists make what they take into something better.”

The full article is recommended and can be read at this link. There is a paywall but you may register for The Spectator’s three free articles per month if you don’t want a subscription. Unfortunately, Gerhardie’s 1928 novel Jazz and Jasper, which I believe was his third, was apparently never reprinted under that title or its US title (Eva’s Apples). You may find it in reprints entitled Doom and My Sinful Earth. His first two novels–Futility and The Polyglots–as well as some of the later ones have also been reprinted and are readily available from  and second hand booksellers.

UPDATE (25 July 2022): Additional titles of reprint editions of Jazz and Jasper were added.

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New Complete Works Volumes Announced

Oxford University Press has announced a new round of volumes in its ongoing Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh. These include the following:

Robbery Under Law, v. 15, ed. Michael G Brennan

This is the first fully annotated critical edition of Waugh’s book on Mexico, Robbery Under Law: The Mexican Object-Lesson (1939), based on three months’ research by Waugh in the country in 1938 and rarely included in later reprints of Waugh’s travel writings. Waugh insisted in its opening words: ‘This is a political book’; it traced the expropriation of British and American oil interests in Mexico by its repressive Marxist government. It described the current political and social inequities suffered by both its Mexican citizens and foreign companies trading there and also provided a powerful account of the history of Catholic persecution in the country. Its narratives offered an implicit but potent warning about the barbarity of totalitarian regimes as war in Western Europe grew increasingly likely.

The book includes for the first time the detailed contract drawn up between Waugh and the Pearson family, who tacitly commissioned the work in response to the Mexican government’s expropriation of their extensive oil interests.

Michael G Brennan is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the School of English, University of Leeds. He has published various books and editions on the writings and history of the Sidney family of Penshurst Place, Kent, and on English travellers on the Continent between 1450 and 1700. He has also published widely on twentieth-century literature, including books on Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and George Orwell.

The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, v. 14, ed. Dr Barbara Cooke.

In winter 1954, Evelyn Waugh took a voyage to Sri Lanka to escape the English cold and recover his ailing health. Visibly unwell when he boarded ship, once at sea he began suffering auditory hallucinations that pursued him through his ‘holiday’ and back on to an early flight home. He then fictionalized his experiences as The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. This curious novel has baffled and intrigued critics ever since its first publication in 1957 and is now presented in a full critical edition. This new volume charts the creation and publication of the novel and examines its cultural and literary significance, noting every textual change and revision from manuscript to the last edition to be published in Evelyn Waugh’s lifetime. It has a comprehensive appendix of contextual notes and an extensive scholarly introduction covering all aspects of the history of this text and its place in cultural and literary history. It draws on newly discovered material relating to Evelyn Waugh’s breakdown, including Waugh’s engagement diaries, to tell the story behind the narrative and explain how fantasy and painful reality intertwine in this highly biographical work of fiction.

Dr Barbara Cooke is a Lecturer in English at Loughborough University and Co-Executive Editor of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh. She also serves as a volume editor on the edition and as an Editorial Board member of the Complete Works of Ford Madox Ford, for which she is co-editing two volumes of letters. She has also published biographical writing on Waugh and guidance on how to manage a large editorial team.

Edmund Campion, v. 17, ed. Gerard Kilroy.

Evelyn Waugh originally wrote his Edmund Campion to thank Martin D’Arcy, SJ, and to help with the building of Campion Hall, but his experience of Communist oppression in Mexico and Croatia transformed his understanding of Campion’s life, revealing Campion less as an Elizabethan martyr than as part of ‘the unending war’ between the church and the totalitarian state. Waugh wrote a passionate new ‘Preface’ for the American edition of 1946 and made important changes to each of the three subsequent editions, culminating in the beautiful third edition of 1961. This new edition provides extensive biographical and contextual notes to help the reader unfamiliar with early modern history and records the many manuscript revisions and the book’s reception both sides of the Atlantic. The introduction explores the personal impact of Waugh’s friendship with the Asquith and Herbert families and examines the cultural context of a brief period of confidence for English Catholicism, energized by the canonization process (in which Waugh’s own daughters were involved), which coincided with the publication of the five editions of the book from 1935 to 1961. Waugh received the Hawthornden Prize for the book just before he took part in the opening of Campion Hall; the book offered him a Jesuit hearth in the ‘household of the faith’ and gave a new theological direction to his writing, characterized by Brideshead RevisitedHelenaThe Sword of Honour trilogy, and Ronald Knox. The book reveals the serious and passionate depth of an author sometimes seen only as a satirist and emerges as one of the best objets d’Arcy, which Waugh continued to give to friends till his death.

Gerard Kilroy, has an MA from Magdalen College, Oxford in both Classics and English. After a PhD at Lancaster, his first book was on the circulation of manuscripts connected with Campion. He won a prize from English Literary Renaissance for his ‘Advertising the Reader: Sir John Harington’s ‘Directions in the Margent’ (2011), a study of the role of the queen’s godson in subversive publishing in manuscript and print. His biography of Edmund Campion, A Scholarly Life used many recently discovered manuscripts in Prague and Cieszyn, Poland, to provide a meticulously researched picture of Campion’s life. He lectures on religious ideas and biblical sources in Shakespeare. The book was edited with the assistance of Thomas M. McCoog, SJ

The foregoing descriptions were adapted from the publisher’s announcement. OUP and are accepting advance orders for copies, with an estimated UK publication date of 27 October 2022. US publication is set for 27 January 2023.  It should also be noted that OUP has not stated that these are the only new volumes to be released on these dates.

UPDATE (2 August 2022): US publication date was added.


Posted in Complete Works, Edmund Campion, Robbery Under Law, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Harold and Robert and Evelyn

The latest issue of Valet magazine (No. 4) has an article by Waugh biographer and Waugh Society member Duncan McLaren entitled “An Oxford Cartoon”. As he explains in the introductory paragraphs, it is inspired by a drawing that accompanies the article. This is:

… a 1929 cartoon drawing by Mark Ogilvie-Grant of three strikingly dressed men, based on the relatively unknown artist’s memory of his famous contemporaries Harold Acton, Robert Byron, and Evelyn Waugh in an Oxford college room in 1923 or 1924. One suspects that Ogilvie-Grant’s motive for drawing it was his perception that he had been witness to a culturally significant moment, the dawn of the era of the ‘Bright Young Things’—the bohemian writers and artists who excited widespread bemusement and amusement as Britain bounced back from World War I.

Duncan goes on to describe how the three undergraduates (Harold and Robert and Evelyn) formed a sort of triumvirate of aesthetes in which Harold was the leader and the other two his followers. After Oxford they remained in a looser confederation and managed to each produce a “significant” publication in 1928: Humdrum (Acton–first novel), Decline and Fall (Waugh–first novel) and The Station:Athos (Byron–first serious travel book). After that, the group tended to unravel as their careers diverged. Acton lived and taught in China, while Waugh and Byron wrote in England and travelled to distant and disparate places. As Duncan explains, Waugh and Byron soon developed an antipathy to each other but remained in touch with, if not enthralled by Acton who wrote mostly history and poetry. Acton actually found housing for Byron in China after his oriental travels in the 1930s.

Byron died at sea during the war but Waugh and Acton (now living in Italy) remained in contact. Acton however records becoming more and more disenchanted with Waugh due to his increasing drunkeness and gratuitous rudeness. Duncan explains how their relationship gradually wound down.

The article is in the current issue of Valet magazine which can be purchased online. There is no digital edition. A copy of the Oglivie-Grant drawing that inspired the article can be viewed on Duncan’s website at this link. (Scroll down,)

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EWS #53.1 (Spring 2022) Now Posted

The current Evelyn Waugh Studies 53.1 can now be read at this link.

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Roundup: Boris Johnson, Arcadia and a Feghoot

–The New Statesman mentions Waugh twice in separate articles recounting the last days of Boris Johnson’s premiership. The first is by Jason Cowley and is entitled “In 2019 Boris Johnson had everything he wanted. But the gods were waiting for him”. Here’s an excerpt:

Like Churchill, Johnson is a writer. He is celebrated for his flamboyant witticisms and arcane vocabulary, part Bertie Wooster, part early Evelyn Waugh. But as prime minister he never found an authentic voice – or tone or register – to speak to and for the British people, especially during the traumatic first year of the pandemic. For whatever reason – a reluctance to deliver bad news, a fear of the wrath of the libertarian right in his party, a failure of empathy – he could not, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote of Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, step outside his political role and reveal “himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers”.

The second is by Simon Kuper and is entitled: “The final act in the Gove-Johnson psychodrama: The pair’s unlikely political alliance began at Oxford, was cemented by Brexit and ended with one last strike of revenge“. The story begins with Gove acting as campaign manager in Johnson’s second (and successful) run for president of the Oxford Union. The article continues through their years as MPs and partnership in securing Brexit (without which Kuper thinks the referendum would have lost). Along the way, and before the Brexit episode, Gove had formed an alliance with David Cameron. This is where Waugh comes in:

The Goves holidayed with the Camerons, their children. practically grew up together […] but Gove remained in awe of Cameron. Tim Shipman’s book about the Brexit referendum, All Out War, compares the men’s relationship to that between the upper-middle-class Charles Ryder and the golden Etonian Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.  Gove was probably the most gifted right-wing politician, brighter and more articulate than the Etonians, but he accepted that in the Conservative Party, intelligence was not the decisive attribute. It could even be a handicap: Britain was not France.

The article goes on to describe how both Gove and Johnson ditched their former colleague Cameron over Brexit and then re-united when Johnson became premier in 2019 only to fall out again as Johnson was cratering.

–In his Spectator column, Jeremy Clarke describes several means by which he has tried to relieve his mid-summer malaise:

As of now I have two things left up my sleeve to try to get myself out of this slough. One is magic mushrooms. […] The other is a silent contemplation and prayer in a closed religious community. […] The nunnery is huge, old and remote and the seven gentle, smiling nuns – Argentinian –are like nothing on Earth. Now and again I read in the paper about the gradual suppression of Latin in the Catholic Church. I know nothing of the theological debate. All I do know is that it was a contributory cause of Evelyn Waugh’s early death. The poor man should have fled down here. Here the nuns sing and chant away in Latin as though unaware of any theological controversy more recent than the Council of Trent. Like Peter Cook, I never ’ad the Latin. But I do enjoy the ring of a Latin expression. For example, Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus – false in one thing, false in everything.

–The TLS reviews a two-volume book entitled A History of Arcadia in Art and Literature. The author is Paul Holberton, and it is reviewed by Jonathan Bate. This appears near the beginning:

…the abiding influence of the name [Arcadia] owes more to Roman history. Though it was the supposed home of Pan and the birthplace of the huntress Atalanta, Arcadia as the place where humankind lives in harmony with nature is an idea rooted in the literary and artistic traditions of pastoral. Yet in the first eclogue of Theocritus, father of the genre, Pan is asked to leave the mountainous land of the Arcadian king Lycaon and relocate to Sicily. Arcadia itself is not named. It was only with Virgil’s Latin imitations of Theocritus, the sequence of poems he called his Bucolics, that Arcadia became the locus amoenus (pleasant place) where shepherds sing in the shade of their various loves and losses.

The review eventually gets around to the section of Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited entitled “Et in Arcadia Ego”. That is behind a paywall, but an examination of the book’s contents would suggest that it is probably discussed in volume 2, Chapter 16, entitled “Et in Arcadia Ego”.  This deals with paintings on that topic by, inter alia, Guercino and Poussin, as well as writings by Milton (“L’Allegro”), Marvell (green thought”) and Grey’s Elegy.

–The Washington Post has been posting a series of columns where readers are invited to send in passages which include a pun as well as clues to what phrase is being punned. It seems to be called a feghoot. This is defined in Wikipedia: “also known as a story pun or poetic story joke [a feghoot] is a humorous short story or vignette ending in a pun (typically a play on a well-known phrase)”. Here’s one in which Evelyn Waugh appears. The solution is added in parenthesis at the end:

Having given chef the night off, Evelyn Waugh decided to make Christmas dinner himself. Waugh was a bit prickly, and got infuriated by little things — like recalcitrant salsa or dribbling Worcestershire. And so, as the carol tells us, “Cooking when the sauce oozed out often cheesed off Evelyn.” (I credit the Royal Consort for discerning “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen.”)

The Royal Consort seems to be the columnist’s partner.



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Evelyn Waugh Studies, No. 53.1 (Spring 2022)

The latest issue of  the society’s journal Evelyn Waugh Studies has been distributed to the members and is now posted at this link. Here is a description of the contents as set forth in the cover letter:

1. Thomas J. Hellenbrand reappraises Waugh’s time in what was then Yugoslavia during World War II, a fascinating interlude and an experience Waugh turned into some of the most moving sections of the Sword of Honour trilogy.

2. Francisco Teles da Gama provides an excellent piece on the reborn hero in the works of Waugh and Schnitzler, appropriately entitled “Fall and Rise”.

3. Meanwhile, our very own Jeffrey Manley considers the 75th anniversary of the US publication of Brideshead.

4. Book reviews include two editions from the long-awaited Complete Works series, edited by titans of Waugh scholarship, Donat Gallagher (v. 26 Essays, Articles and Reviews) reviewed by Marshall McGraw and Martin Stannard (v. 2, Vile Bodies) reviewed by Nicholas V. Barney.

UPDATE (18 July 2022): Link to current issue added.

Posted in Academia, Anniversaries, Brideshead Revisited, Complete Works, Essays, Articles & Reviews, Evelyn Waugh Studies, Vile Bodies, World War II | Leave a comment

Arnold Bennett Revival ?

Simon Heffer writing in the Daily Telegraph reconsiders the career and reputation of Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), an early supporter of Evelyn Waugh. The article opens with this:

Despite the literary achievement of Arnold Bennett, generations have now grown up unaware of him. Even 40 years ago, when I was studying for an English degree, the novelist was despised by dons who followed the groupthink initiated by Virginia Woolf (in a Cambridge lecture in 1924) that Bennett was – like his popular contemporaries HG Wells and John Galsworthy (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) – second rate.

The article goes on to mention a new biography of Bennett by Patrick Donovan. This is entitled Arnold Bennett: Lost Icon and is the first since the one by Margaret Drabble in 1974. Here’s an excerpt:

Before the Great War, Bennett had lived in Paris, acquiring a French wife and an understanding of the advanced currents of French culture. He befriended Maurice Ravel. When war came he joined Britain’s propaganda operation, became one of its directors, and turned down a knighthood. Firmly part of the establishment, he acquired a new best friend, Lord Beaverbrook. He wrote one of his most critically-acclaimed novels, Riceyman Steps, in 1923, but his reputation as a novelist declined soon after Woolf ‘s attack.

That didn’t stop him becoming one of the most influential literary critics in the land. He was paid the equivalent of £350,000 a year by the Evening Standard to review books for them: he praised Evelyn Waugh and championed Radclyffe Hall’s controversial 1928 lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness.

In his final years when Bennett was the chief book reviewer at the Evening Standard, that was still an influential paper. In that venue, Bennett briefly reviewed both Decline and Fall (1928) and Vile Bodies (1930), strongly preferring the former to the latter. Although the Telegraph article does not go into the details of those reviews, they are both available in Martin Stannard’s Critical Heritage volume devoted to Evelyn Waugh. According to Bennett, D&F was

an uncompromising and brilliantly malicious satire, which in my opinion comes near to being quite first rate–especially in the third part dealing with the prison system. I say without reserve that this novel delighted me.

He mentions it again two years later: “really brilliantly funny about once a page.” But in that same article he found VB “less successful”.  It included “satirical sallies of the first order of merit” but the nonlinear plot required careful reading. He found the “smart set” unsympathetic and, while Waugh’s satirization of it is “not unjust, … some of it is extremely, wildly farcical.” Bennett “began the book with great expectations but found hard times in the middle of it.” His review concludes with a reference to Alec Waugh who he believes has “more to say [and] is weightier than his cadet”, praising Alec’s new book The Coloured Countries.  Bennett died the year after that second review was written.

The article in the Daily Telegraph concludes its discussion of the new biography with the following assessment:

This excellent book puts Bennett back on the map. All that is now necessary is for people to start reading him again: an enterprising publisher should republish his novels, and encourage a new audience to discover the treasure they hold.

Arnold Bennett:Lost Icon was published last March in the UK and will be published next month in America. It is already available on and 

Posted in Biographies, Decline and Fall, Newspapers, Vile Bodies | Tagged , | Leave a comment