Details Released of Waugh Event at Chipping Campden Festival

The Chipping Campden Literary Festival to be held in May has released more details of its event entitled “Scoop: We Need to Talk About Evelyn”. This is scheduled for Friday, 10 May at 830pm in the Chipping Campden School Hall. The festival’s release is copied below:

“Scoop is often cited as the best comic novel about journalism, and its author Evelyn Waugh, one-time correspondent on the Daily Mail, might just as appropriately have called it “Fake News”. It remains as relevant and funny today as when first published in 1938. Sam Walters and Auriol Smith read from this classic novel, and Martin Stannard and Duncan McLaren (with historic photographs and press cuttings) present their own take on it, and discuss the two very different directions Waugh studies are going in the twenty-first century.

Duncan McLaren is the self-styled Doctor Who of the Waugh universe: his ongoing engagement with Evelyn takes him all over the place including Crete to revisit the culmination of Officers and Gentlemen. As well as being author of Evelyn!:Rhapsody for an Obsessive Love Duncan has written Looking For Enid: the Mysterious and Inventive Life of Enid Blyton.

Martin Stannard, FRS of Literature and the English Association, and Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Leicester, has published extensively on Evelyn Waugh –The Critical Heritage and a two-volume biography – and is Co-Executive Editor of OUP’s The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, editing Vile Bodies for this. Other works include the 2009 biography of Muriel Spark and the Norton edition of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier.

Auriol Smith, actor, theatre director, and founder member and former associate director of the Orange Tree Theatre, has also directed in the West End, regional theatres and at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Sam Walters MBE, educated at Merton College Oxford, trained as an actor at LAMDA. He retired in 2014 as Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London which he founded in 1971 and ran for 42 years! He also directed in the West End, in many regional theatres, and at drama schools.”

For details about tickets and other relevant information click here.


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Evening Standard’s Waugh Twofer

The Evening Standard reviews a book by David Kynaston and Francis Green of UCL entitled Engines of Privilege: Britain’s Private Education Problem. According to the review by Ann McElvoy:

What interests these two centre-Left writers is the degree of insulation that a private education brings. Evelyn Waugh put it with (public school) languor in Decline and Fall: “One goes through four or five years of perfect hell at an age when life is bound to be hell, anyway, and after that, the social system never lets one down.” […]

The article goes on to conclude:

At its best, Engines of Privilege reminds us that many arguments recur down the decades. Yet exclusive education is only superior as long as it does better than the other kind. The best London state schools now beat their private neighbours on admissions to top universities. More of that, better investment in the development of teachers and a consistent policy on improving schools are better solutions than the long-threatened clampdown on private schools. They would, as philosopher and headmistress Mary Warnock once put it, probably find yet another “ingenious dodge” to beat the rap anyway.

The Standard also has a review of the new collection of Auberon Waugh’s writings, A Scribbler in Soho. This is by Melanie McDonagh who describes the book, edited by Naim Attallah as:

…an odd book, neither an outright anthology nor biography nor memoir, but something of all three, in which [Attallah] describes in detail all the events of Waugh’s career with which he was involved, especially as the proprietor of the persistently loss-making Literary Review, which Waugh edited. There’s too much space given to libel actions but we do get lots of his pieces, which remain subversive, funny and often to the point. He couldn’t survive now, and that, you know, reflects badly on us.

Auberon at one time wrote book reviews for the Evening Standard of a quite high quality, but none of these is collected in this book so far as has been revealed in this or previous reviews.


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End-of the-Month Roundup

–The Gale Group Publishing Company, which makes a speciality of marketing and distribution of digital historical archives, has posted on the internet several articles from its archive of The Listener magazine. One of these is a 1979 article by Graham Greene entitled “Remembering Evelyn Waugh” about his friendship with  Waugh and an appreciation of his work. This is attributed to BBC Radio 3 which suggests that it was read first by Greene over that outlet. It is an interesting and thoughtful essay and contains some heartfelt descriptions of Greene’s relations with Waugh, who he felt at the time was under-appreciated. This was only a few years before the broadcast on ITV of the serial dramatization of Brideshead Revisited turned things around.

–The Swindon Link has an article about the more recent film adaptation of Brideshead. This identifies the top five films that used Wiltshire as a location setting. It is surprising to find Brideshead among them:

Evelyn Waugh’s iconic 1945 novel was finally adapted for the big screen after a long and lengthy production process. Starring Emma Thompson and Matthew Goode in this classic story of love triangles, scandal, and debauchery among England’s upper classes, the film opened to rave reviews in 2008, despite failing to break even at the box office. Almost the entirety of the film was shot within Wiltshire, despite Castle Howard in North Yorkshire being used in exterior shots for Brideshead Castle.

–An article in Dialogo Chino, a “newsletter for the latest news & analysis on China, Latin America and the environment”, is entitled: “China extends its reach into Guyana”. This opens with a reference to Evelyn Waugh:

The Rupununi savannah of southern Guyana is one of the most biodiverse regions of South America, home to jaguars, Harpy eagles and the world’s largest ants. It is also one of the most remote. British writer Evelyn Waugh set the final scenes of his 1932 novel A Handful of Dust in the Guyanese grasslands when he needed an isolated location from which his protagonist had no hope of rescue or escape. With Chinese investment that isolation could soon be a thing of the past.

Chinese investment also followed Waugh’s footsteps in Abyssinia where among other things they recently rebuilt the railway that carried Waugh to Addis Ababa from Djibouti in the course of his travels. A better source for background information about the Rupununi region can be found in Waugh’s travel book Ninety-Two Days where he offers a detailed description of his visits to some Jesuit missions and farmers in that remote area which he used as the basis for the conclusion of his novel.

–A recent article in CityMetric also cites Waugh’s work. CityMetric is an internet publication started by the New Statesman “with the goal of creating an urbanism magazine site that would take complicated and technical ideas from the world of city planning, and make them accessible to a mainstream audience.” The article of interest to our readers related to tourism and how cities are responding to it. In the course of the article, the impact of travel writing is discussed:

In the 1970s, travel writer Paul Theroux wrote of the snobbery around travel, dating this attitude back to Evelyn Waugh’s When The Going Was Good in 1946, and to the writings of American botanist and geologist William T. Brigham. Brigham wrote in 1886 that: “Old travellers know how soon the individuality of a country is lost when once the tide of foreign travel is turned through its towns and by-ways.”

The online edition of the article is headed by the display of an anti-tourism demonstrator in Barcelona, one of the cities Waugh helped to popularize in his travel book Labels.

–The paperback edition of Ann Pasternak Slater’s book entitled Evelyn Waugh in the “Writers and their Work” series is now available from the publishers in both the UK (Liverpool University Press) and the USA (Oxford University Press). See earlier posts.


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Martin Stannard Lecture at Durham University Next Month (More)

Durham University has posted more details about Martin Stannard’s lecture next month. The topic is Waugh’s visits to the USA in the late 1940s. Here’s a description from the Durham University website:

About the lecture

By 1947, the year of his first visit to America, Evelyn Waugh had wounded most of his friends. He had tried to bully John Betjeman and Lady Diana Cooper into Catholicism; he had condemned Olivia Plunket-Greene, the woman who had brought him to the Church, as a traitor to the faith; he had lampooned Cyril Connolly in mordant literary reviews. When, two years later, Nancy Mitford entertained him in Paris and he conscientiously insulted all her friends, she asked him why he needed to be so cruel. ‘You have no idea,’ he replied, ‘how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.’ This much-quoted remark from Christopher Sykes’s biography is often set alongside another. Hilaire Belloc, after a visit from Waugh, described him as ‘possessed’. Waugh’s American experience, however, reveals a much more sympathetic character.

In 1944, after Waugh broke a leg while learning to parachute, the army gratefully allowed him extended leave, during which he wrote Brideshead Revisited (1945). Appearing with the Armistice, it transformed his career. In America, it was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. At a time when most of his countrymen were suffering the austerities of the aftermath, Waugh became rich, and he had the Americans to thank for this. But he didn’t. In 1947, he travelled to Hollywood to negotiate the film rights for an additional $100,000. Waugh preferred to visit Forest Lawn and the pets’ cemetery to attending script conferences, so, although this trip resulted in no film, it did produce The Loved One (1948), an hilarious satire of the American Dream. Waugh’s agent advised him not to publish it in the US. Waugh ignored his advice, and the book rocketed into the best-seller list. His celebrity status had never been higher there. Two more American journeys, however, present us with a quite different personality. He believed that American Catholicism was likely to be the Church’s powerhouse in the post-war world, and he determined to do what he could to support it. A lecture tour was planned for January 1949. Before that, in November 1948, he went on a research trip to discuss the faith with the monks, Bishops and Professors. Less than a year after completing The Loved One, he was returning to the country his book had savaged in search of spiritual enlightenment.

Everywhere he went, he amused and baffled his hosts. He would not play the celebrity game. The great art of public presentation, he felt, was that people should never know what to make of you. A contract existed between writer and public. ‘The writer,’ he once wrote, ‘sweats to write well; the reader sweats to make dollars; writer and reader exchange books for dollars.’ That was the end of the matter. He did not seek intimacy with strangers. But this was not arrogance or hypocrisy. In fact, he was withdrawing from the world, in search of contrition, compassion and humility.

About the speaker

Martin Stannard is Emeritus Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Leicester. He has published extensively on Evelyn Waugh, following The Critical Heritage (1984) with a biography in two volumes (1986 and 1992). His Norton edition of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier appeared in 1995 (revised 2011), and his biography of Muriel Spark in 2009. Currently he is Co-Executive Editor of OUP’s 43-volume The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, having edited Vile Bodies (2017) for this, and is researching a new biography of Ford. Prof. Stannard is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the English Association.

About the Ushaw Lecture Series

The Ushaw Lecture Series celebrates the cultural and research significance of the remarkable bibliographical, archival and material-cultural collections at Ushaw, and the wider history of which they are expressions. The lectures cover music, art, drama, poetry and literature, architecture, material-culture, politics, science and theology.

The lecture is at Ushaw College on the evening of 12 February with drinks preceding the lecture. Details (including directions to the lecture site as well as free transport from Durham city center) are available here.

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Wartime TLS

Gale Primary Sources has posted an article about how the TLS managed to thrive in the wartime period 1939-1945 while many other literary publications struggled or died. The article seems to be an extract from a longer work about TLS during the days of anonymous reviewing 1902-1974. It is written by Deborah McVea and Jeremy Treglown (a previous editor) and opens with this:

Perhaps The Times Literary Supplement should have been renamed Survival, the title of the fictional wartime literary magazine in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of
Honour trilogy. The outbreak of war helped the previously struggling journal in various ways. Paper shortages necessitated restrictions in the size of daily newspapers, forcing them to reduce space for book reviews and to turn away a proportion of their advertising. Publishers consequently bought more space in the Supplement. Meanwhile, literature in general found a growing market among a population forced to sit around in barracks and air-raid shelters, often with little to do but read books and magazines. In these circumstances, D.L. Murray’s more populist editorial approach began to pay off, bringing the paper a new audience. Meanwhile, some smaller literary periodicals which had previously represented competition, if only at the margins, closed down under the various pressures of the time: among them
the Bookman, the London Mercury, T.S. Eliot’s Criterion, and Geoffrey Grigson’s New Verse.

The authors might have mentioned another possible title for the wartime TLS that was also suggested by Waugh. This was ‘Duration’ which would have been a literary journal edited and contributed to by Waugh and a group of his friends. But the project was called off after they learned about Cyril Connolly’s plans for Horizon. The journal “Survival” and its editor  Everard Spruce mentioned in Sword of Honour were parodies of Horizon and Connolly.

Among the examples of TLS wartime reviewing, the article includes a quote from the review of Waugh’s Put Out More Flags (1942). This was in the “orotund” style of an elderly but frequent reviewer identified as E E Mavrogordato:

“The period of which [Waugh] is writing is that of the present war; the people are rogues or inept – people such as in the years after the last war were drawn by authors dubbed young intellectuals, to the weakening, as some think, of the nation’s faith in itself and with general disruptive effects from which its enemies are now profiting. In fact, in its rendering of those to whom the nation has to look for orders and guidance this book would be mischievous, but that it is unlikely to impress readers whose value to the community would be reduced by accepting its implications.”

The authors describe this review as an “echo of the First World War” and point out that it was “consistent with a more subtly conformist approach in reviews of political books, especially those on foreign policy” where adjustments were made after 1941, for example, with regard to books about the Soviet Union.

The article closes with this:

Most historians of modern British literature still write as if the only wartime British literary journals were Cyril Connolly’s Horizon and John Lehmann’s New Writing. D.L. Murray’s TLS deserves a place in the story. Murray had spent a quarter of a century on the staff. […] But great institutions are more than the sum of their members and in the post- war years the TLS was to enter another ambitious new phase.

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One Humorist Reviews Another

Craig Brown writing in this week’s Mail on Sunday offers an article that is more in praise of Auberon Waugh as a humorist than it is of the recent collection of his writings. Brown begins with his assessment of Auberon’s life and career:

Newspaper humorists who once made their readers howl with laughter now seem dreadfully plodding and laboured. It’s not their fault: time moves on, and topical humour becomes less topical, and less humorous.[…] But once or twice in a generation comes a humorist blessed with the enviable capacity to remain funny, even though his ostensible targets have faded with time. Auberon Waugh, who died in 2001, was, to my mind, a comic genius. Every week or two, I still dip into books of his Private Eye diaries (1972-1985), and they still make me laugh, despite the fact that many of the victims of his jokes – Princess Margaret, Edward Heath, Jeremy Thorpe – are now no more than footnotes from history

Waugh is often categorised as a right-wing humorist, but, as Neil Clark points out in the sharpest essay in this book, he might just as easily be placed on the left. His vituperation acknowledged no boundaries. […]  His view of current affairs was wholly off-beat but guided by a peculiar, topsy-turvy logic. How I wish he were still with us, so that we could read his views on President Trump and Brexit! Something of a prophet, he would, I imagine, be fascinated to learn that Trump’s food of choice is the hamburger. Back in 1993, he noted that, ‘the hamburger, wherever it is found, is the emblem of American cultural colonialism. It is more than a food preference: it is an existential choice, a philosophical statement, a way of life… The fight against hamburgers is a small part of a much greater struggle to prevent Britain becoming culturally, as well as economically, dependent on the United States.’ At the same time – and contrary to those who liked to portray him as a nationalist blimp – he was a dedicated European. ‘For a very long time it has seemed to me that our only possible refuge from the United States is in a more or less united Europe… ‘

Brown goes on to express his disappointment that the present collection in A Scribbler in Soho contains an unrepresentative selection of Auberon’s work. It relies too heavily on his editorials in the Literary Review and contains too little of his best work from the diaries, Daily Telegraph columns and book reviews. He also finds Naim Attallah’s narratives tedious and repetitious and concludes with this:

And why, if Attallah wrote this commentary, as he claims to have done, does he constantly refer to himself in the third person, eg, ‘Certainly Naim felt that a new epoch began the day Bron came into his life’? As it happens, I was also surprised to find my own name popping up on page 29, as someone who ‘never missed the chance to lambast any of Naim’s activities’. This is overstating it: in 40 years of journalism I doubt I have written about him more than four or five times. Or six, including this one.

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Oxford College Announces Waugh Thesis

Linacre College, Oxford has announced a DPhil thesis by one of its students. The title is “Evelyn Waugh: Travel Writing and Politics” and its author is Roger Irwin, a postgraduate student. The college is a postwar foundation, and its students are all postgraduates working on advanced degrees. It is not clear from the announcement whether the thesis is at the beginning or end of its gestation, but it is probably the latter. Roger Irwin previously described his research in a 2016 posting on the Linacre College website in which the earlier stages of the project are described:

Linacre student, Roger Irwin, has just returned from a Leeds Hoban Huntington Exchange Fellowship. Researching Evelyn Waugh’s letters, journals and manuscripts held at the Huntington Library, California, Roger accessed many primary resources for his DPhil thesis on the politics of Waugh’s writing and, in particular, on his war novels and travel writing. […] Roger recommends the exchange: “As well housing great literary collections, the Huntington is an excellent place to think and work. I loved its gardens, museums and galleries and it has a lively intellectual community where I enjoyed chatting to fellow researchers at lunch every day. I was also fortunate enough to spare some time at the end of my stay to read the autograph manuscript of Decline and Fall (1928), which is Waugh’s first (and funniest) novel.”

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Roundup: Whigs, Scribblers, Converts and Teddy Bears

–In a recent Wall Street Journal there is a review of a new book by Jeremy Black  entitled Charting the Past. This is a consideration of English history as described by historians of the 18th Century. It begins with this quote from Evelyn Waugh:

In Evelyn Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust (1934), Lady Brenda Last remarks of her husband’s beloved ancestral home Hetton Abbey” “I detest it…at least I don’t mean that really but I do wish sometimes that it wasn’t all, every bit of it, so appallingly ugly.” Her husband, Tony Last, will do anything to keep up the old ways. Though lacking any semblance of religious feeling, he dutifully attends the village church every Sunday and sits in the pine pew that his great grandfather installed there generations ago. While Tony is fussing over his neo-Gothic pile, Brenda takes a flat in London “with limitless hot water and every transatlantic refinement.”

The reviewer (Benjamin Riley) explains that these two positions represent the “opposite strains” of the approach taken by the English to their history. Tony’s, a Tory view, looking backward, and Brenda’s the Whig version, forward looking.

–There are more reviews of the recent book of the collected writings of Auberon Waugh: A Scribbler in Soho. These are by Lewis Jones in last week’s Sunday Telegraph and William Cook in The Spectator. Both are pleased to see more of Auberon’s writings reproduced but both have reservations about Naim Attallah’s narrative. Jones writes:

This is an affectionate and admiring book, but an odd one. Attallah sets the Soho scene with generous excerpts from Arthur Ransome’s Bohemia in London (1907). […] There is a certain quaint and dusty charm to this, and even echoes of more recent times, but scant immediate relevance. Moving rapidly onwards to the Soho of the Fifties, with its dives and drinking clubs, Attallah recalls his stint as a bouncer in a nightclub off Charing Cross Road, and the occasion of his hospitalisation by a drunken Scotsman. And he gives a somewhat incoherent account of Waugh’s early career on Private Eye and The Spectator. […]

Attallah devotes 24 pages to a selection of the Private Eye Diaries, which is not nearly enough, and 59 to various deservedly forgotten libel cases (including, bizarrely, one between Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Spain), which is far too many. There are warm recollections of the old Academy Club, a relaxed establishment with some eccentric rules, among them that “shoes must be worn”, and that members who have “the misfortune of being sent to prison may take up the unused part of their membership upon release”.

Cook, who also edited a collection of Auberon’s writing that appeared as Kiss Me, Chudleigh (2010), writes:

Like a eulogy at a funeral, Attallah’s adulation may be touching, but it leaves the riddle of Waugh’s split personality (a demon on the page and an angel off it) tantalisingly unresolved. Attallah makes some telling points about Waugh’s ‘radical fury’, but the deepest insights in the book come from other people, most notably Kathy O’Shaughnessy, Waugh’s sometime deputy editor at Literary Review. […] No matter. It would be very difficult to produce a bad or boring book about Auberon Waugh — and although Attallah sometimes threatens to have a jolly good go, Waugh rides to the rescue whenever the paean becomes too fulsome. Waugh was incredibly prolific (you could compile several books like this one and still not scratch the surface) and among these old favourites are many entertaining articles I’ve never seen before.

–Joseph Pearce, Roman Catholic literary critic and editor of the St Austin Review has an interesting article posted on the website. This considers the religious conversions of Evelyn Waugh and T S Eliot:

What was most shocking to [Virginia] Woolf and her ilk was that Eliot and Waugh were “modern”. They were doing innovative and exciting things with poetry and fiction. They were the heralds of the new dawn of modernity. How could the most exciting and cutting-edge literary talent find its home in the Church? The fact is that Eliot and Waugh had experienced the secular fundamentalist “future” as a wasteland of barren emptiness. In the midst of this vacuity they had sought to fill modernity’s vacuum with traditional Christianity seeing it as “the essential and formative constituent of western culture”. This might have led to their being considered “dead” to the suicidal nihilism of Woolf and her fellow Bloomsburys, but it breathed astonishing literary life into their post-conversion work. Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is arguably the greatest novel of the twentieth century, and Eliot’s Four Quartets is indubitably the century’s finest poem.

–Finally, the teddy bear named Aloysius who appears in Brideshead Revisited is mentioned in two recent articles. The Guardian has a story in which it is noted that the:

…current vogue for animal-related fashion isn’t all down to Instagram and influencers. Sebastian Flyte’s teddy bear Aloysius, featured in Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited, suggests animal accessories were a thing decades ago. Aloysius, in turn, was based on a real life It-bear, Archibald Ormsby-Gore, owned by Waugh’s poet friend, John Betjeman. Betjeman died holding Archie – a classic teddy in smart waistcoat – in 1984. Fast-forward 35 years and animal accessories are a thing again – although admittedly in less highbrow company.

The Norwich Evening News considers the reasons children are so comforted by soft toys and security blankets and concludes with this:

Some famous teddy bears and blankets:

In Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip, Linus has a “security and happiness blanket.”

Winnie the Pooh was the teddy bear owned by AA Milne’s son Christopher.

Aloysius accompanied Lord Sebastian Flyte to Oxford in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited – and is said to have been modelled on John Betjeman’s beloved bear Archibald Ormsby-Gore.

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Russell Baker 1925-2019

Russell Baker, one of America’s leading journalists in the last half of the 20th Century, has died at the age of 93. He was best known as a reporter and columnist for the New York Times. But he got his start in journalism on the Baltimore Sun as a police reporter beginning the late 1940s. In what may have been his first assignment as a reporter on non-criminal matters, he was sent to interview Evelyn Waugh during Waugh’s stop in Baltimore on his 1949 tour where he lectured at Loyola College of Maryland. Baker wrote about this experience in his 1989 memoir The Good Times.

Waugh was interviewed by both the morning and evening Sun papers, which had separate editorial and news staffs in the 1940s. The interviews were conducted in the the house of Charles Reeves, a local lawyer and benefactor of Loyola College, who hosted Waugh and his wife on their Baltimore visit. The Baltimore Sun (the morning paper) was represented by Baker, who grew up in blue-collar south Baltimore. As explained in his memoir, Baker had been assigned on short notice with no opportunity to research Waugh’s background. He had never read anything by Waugh, and the assignment was not explained to him. He had no time to change clothes to suit the refined tastes of north Baltimore. When he arrived, the reporter for the rival Evening Sun was already there.

Baker noticed that Waugh was dressed in the tweedy north Baltimore style, only more so–as though in parody. He also 

looked like an extremely disagreeable man. The wide pink face did not quite scowl at me, but it was a face from which the smile seemed to have faded years ago. He had the eyes of an angry bird. As I introduced myself, I thought I saw pure hostility in those eyes, but this may have been my fevered imagination at work. Hostile or not, this was clearly a man not likely to be charmed by bumbling damn-fool questions from boy reporters. (The Good Times) 

Baker was further spooked by the Evening Sun reporter, James Bready, a brilliant and experienced feature writer. 

Searching his brain, Baker came up with one fact about Waugh—his conversion to Roman Catholicism. The interview took place just after reports that the Communist government of Hungary had imprisoned Cardinal Josef Mindszenty. In desperation, Baker asked Waugh how he felt about the Cardinal’s imprisonment. Although a how-do-you-feel question was, according to Baker, the sure sign of an amateur in the news business, it worked well on Waugh, who became animated and spoke his mind about what he considered an outrageous action.

Waugh’s reaction became the basis of Baker’s report of the interview in the Sun:

“I can say nothing but what the whole world says. It is pure martyrdom in an age of martyrs. Cardinal Spellman summed the whole thing up quite admirably, I think, in his sermon  Sunday. It shows quite clearly how low the prestige of the West has fallen.”

Mr Waugh, a short boyish-looking man with intense, inquiring eyes and a decisive way of speaking, went on to talk of the so-called “religious revival” in modern letters. “I see no reason to account for it,” he said. “Man is a religious animal. It is abnormal for him not to be religious.”

Baker also included some of Waugh’s responses to questions that may have been asked by Bready, who knew about Waugh’s recent trip to Hollywood. According to Waugh, Aldous Huxley was surrounded by a “bunch of loonies” involved in what they called mysticism: “Huxley is not an irreligious man. He’s just lost in a hopeless fog…. Mysticism implies contact with the supernatural and is a part of Christianity.” When asked about themes of The Loved One (which Bready had obviously read), Waugh responded: “Forest Lawn is the best ordered part of the cinema world. There, all the bodies are properly sorted and placed.” As to whether he would return to Hollywood, Waugh responded: “I’ve seen Hollywood. There’s no point in going back.”

The article concluded:

Asked whether his reputation as a writer of satire makes people expect to find him bitter, Mr Waugh replied, “I don’t know what they expect; but they’re certainly disappointed if they do.” Mr Waugh was right. He creates the impression of being a sober man of faith rather than a cynic.

Baker had his story printed, with no byline, on page 18: “Waugh, Novelist, Calls Trial of Cardinal ‘Martyrdom’” (Baltimore Sun, 8 Feb. 1949). The story is accompanied by a photo which looks as if it were taken for the occasion.

The foregoing account of Russell Baker’s interview of Evelyn Waugh appeared in slightly different form in “’Something Entirely Unique’: Evelyn Waugh’s 1948-49 Tours of North America, Part 3, Baltimore”,  by John McGinty and Jeffrey Manley. Evelyn Waugh Studies, No. 44.2, Autumn 2013.

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Roundup: Daleks and Poputchiks

–The BBC has announced plans to issue a print version of a 1980s Dr Who episode that contains a plot line inspired by Waugh’s novel The Loved One. This is explained on a website that tracks this sort of thing ( which writes that there are:

… only two stories left from the show’s original run that haven’t gotten a novel adaptation – until now. That situation will be remedied this year when BBC Books publishes former script editor Eric Saward’s novelization of those stories […] Saward was the script editor of the show from 1982 to 1986, covering a large part of Peter Davison’s era as the Doctor and Colin Baker’s entire run. He also wrote Revelation of the Daleks [which features] a satire of the funeral business inspired by Evelyn Waugh’s novel The Loved One. [See previous post.] Many fans regard Revelation of the Daleks to be the best script Saward wrote during his tenure on the show.

The novelized version of Revelation of the Daleks (Story 142) will appear in November and, according to, includes this as its major story line:

The Doctor and Peri land on the planet Necros to visit the funerary home Tranquil Repose – where the dead are interred and the near-dead placed in suspended animation until such time as their conditions can be cured.

–In the San Diego Reader (a free-distribution print newspaper) Matthew Lickona recalls several:

… instances when comedy has led me to culture though the back door, so that I know the funny reference before the serious referent. […] I only recently discovered the humor in novelist Evelyn Waugh’s use of “Change and decay in all around I see” as the darkly gleeful declaration of a ruined paterfamilias in Boot [sic]. I read that twenty years before learning that it’s part of a hymn: Change and decay in all around I see/ O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Lickona remembered the quote from the hymn “Abide With Me” but confused the title of the novel Scoop with the name of its hero and his home in Somerset.

–The Guardian reports the death late last year of veteran actor Hugh Dickson (1927-2018). Among his early successes was an appearance in the BBC’s radio adaptation of a Waugh novel:

Regularly in demand for leading or major roles on radio, he will be remembered especially for his Guy Crouchback in the 1974 dramatisation of Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour, Sunny Farebrother in Frederick Bradnum’s adaptation of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time (four series, 1979-82) and as Elrond in Lord of the Rings (1981).

The 1974 adaptation was written for BBC by Barry Campbell and stretched over 11 episodes.  It had earlier been adapted in 1967 for BBC TV by Giles Cooper in a three-episode series starring Edward Woodward as Guy Crouchback.

–Finally, in yesterday’s round of the BBC’s University Challenge quiz program, the moderator Jeremy Paxman posed this question to the University of Warwick’s team: In a 1942 novel Evelyn Waugh used the phrase “horrible jargon” to apply to what two-word term based on the Russian word Попутчик (“Poputchik“) used from the 1920s to describe people who sympathized with the Communist Party but were not members? The Warwick team answered correctly “fellow traveller” for 5 points but lost to University of Bristol.

The reference comes from Put Out More Flags where Ambrose Silk refers to himself as what the Communists “call in their horrible jargon, a fellow traveller” (London, 1967 ed., p. 118). What the Russian word has to do with the derivation of the English term is not something Ambrose discussed or cared about. He was employed at the time by the Ministry of Information as “the representative of Atheism in the religious department” (p. 116). The BBC’s question writers probably picked up this attribution from John Ayto, Movers and Shakers: A Chronology of Words that Shaped our Age (New York: OUP, 1999) p. 93, where POMF is quoted in support of the meaning and origin of “Fellow Traveler” and dates its useage to 1936. Others attribute it to Leon Trotsky.

UPDATE (22 January 2019): Transliteration of Russian word Попутчик (Poputchik) meaning “Fellow Traveler” corrected. A reference to John Ayto book added.

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