Waugh was born in London, and educated at Sherborne School, a public school in Dorset. The result of his experiences was his first, semi-autobiographical novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), in which he remembered and reflected on his schooldays. The book was clearly inspired by The Harrovians by Arnold Lunn, published in 1913 and discussed at some length in The Loom of Youth.
The Loom of Youth was so controversial at the time (it openly mentioned homosexual relationships between boys) that he remains the only former pupil to be expelled from the old boys society (The Old Shirburnian Society). It was also a best seller.
When the book was published Waugh was serving in France, although he did not see action in the First World War until Passchendaele. He was commissioned in the Dorset Regiment in May 1917. He was captured by the Germans near Arras in March 1918 and spent the rest of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in Karlsruhe and Mainz. He went on to a career as a successful author, although never as successful or innovative as his younger brother. He lived much of his life overseas, in exotic places such as Tangier – a lifestyle made possible by his second marriage, to a rich Australian (Joan Chirnside). His work, possibly in consequence, tends to be reminiscent of Somerset Maugham, although without Maugham's huge popular success. Nevertheless, his 1957 novel Island in the Sun was a best-seller, as was his 1973 novel, A Fatal Gift. According to his nephew Auberon, Alec Waugh "wrote many books, each worse than the last".
Evelyn Waugh, by Cecil Beaton, bromide print, 1920s, 7 7/8 in. x 4 4/8 in. (200 mm x 115 mm), Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1991, Photographs Collection, NPG x40397
Alec Waugh was the author of In Praise of Wine & Certain Noble Spirits (1959), an amusing and discursive guide to the major wine types, and Wines and Spirits, a 1968 book in the Time-Life series Foods of the World. This was not a stretch as he was a noted connoisseur. Waugh is said to have invented the cocktail party when he was active in London social life in the 1920s when he served rum swizzles to astonished friends who thought they had come for tea. Within eighteen months, early evening drinks had become a widespread social entertainment.
Waugh also has a footnote in the history of reggae music. The success of the film adaptation of Island in the Sun and the Harry Belafonte title track provided inspiration as well as the name for the highly successful Island Records record label.
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (28 October 1903 – 10 April 1966) was an English writer, best known for such darkly humorous and satirical novels as Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, A Handful of Dust, and The Loved One, as well as for serious works, such as Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honour trilogy that clearly manifest his Catholic background. Many of Waugh's novels depict British aristocracy and high society, which he satirises but to which he was also strongly attracted. In addition, he wrote short stories, three biographies, and the first volume of an unfinished autobiography. His travel literature, extensive diaries and correspondence have also been published.
Waugh's works were very successful with the reading public and he was widely admired as a humorist and as a prose stylist, but as his social conservatism and religiosity became more overt, his works grew more controversial with critics.
In his notes for an unpublished review of Brideshead Revisited, George Orwell declared that Waugh was "about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions."
Martin Amis found that the snobbery of Brideshead was "a failure of imagination, an artistic failure."
On the other hand, American literary critic Edmund Wilson pronounced Waugh "the only first-rate comic genius that has appeared in English since Bernard Shaw."
Time magazine, in a 1966 obituary, summarised his oeuvre by claiming that Waugh had "developed a wickedly hilarious yet fundamentally religious assault on a century that, in his opinion, had ripped up the nourishing taproot of tradition and let wither all the dear things of the world."Born in London, Evelyn Waugh was the second son of noted editor and publisher Arthur Waugh. He was brought up in upper middle class circumstances, although his parents' address in Golders Green embarrassed him. He attended Heath Mount School. His only sibling was his older brother Alec, who also became a writer. Both his father and his brother had been educated at Sherborne, an English public school, but Alec had been asked to leave during his final and he had then published a controversial novel, The Loom of Youth, which touched on the matter of homosexual relationships among students and which was otherwise deemed injurious to Sherborne's reputation. The school therefore refused to take Evelyn, and his father sent him to Lancing College, an institution of lesser social prestige with a strong High Church Anglican character. This circumstance would rankle with the status-conscious Evelyn for the rest of his life but may have contributed to his interest in religion, even though at Lancing he lost his childhood faith and became an agnostic.
After Lancing, he attended Hertford College, Oxford as a history scholar. There, Waugh neglected academic work and was known as much for his artwork as for his writing. He also threw himself into a vigorous social scene populated by aesthetes such as Harold Acton, Brian Howard and David Talbot Rice, and members of the British aristocracy and the upper classes. His social life at Oxford would provide the background for some of his most characteristic later writing.
Asked if he had competed in any sport for his college, Waugh famously replied "I drank for Hertford."It has been claimed through diary entries and letters that he had relationships with other men during his college years, but may have ultimately been bisexual. (In his diary Waugh refers in retrospect to "my first homosexual love".) During what has been described as an "acute homosexual phase" between 1921 and 1924, at least three relationships have been suggested, with Richard Pares, Alistair Graham and Hugh Patrick Lygon. These may have helped shape his future works.
Waugh's final exam results qualified him only for a third-class degree. He was prevented from remaining in residence for the extra term that would have been required of him and he left Oxford in 1924 without taking his degree. In 1925 he taught at a private school in Wales. In his autobiography, Waugh claims that he attempted suicide at the time by swimming out to sea, only to turn back after being stung by jellyfish. He was later dismissed from another teaching post for attempting to seduce the matron, telling his father he had been dismissed for "inebriation".
He was briefly apprenticed to a cabinet-maker and afterwards maintained an interest in marquetry, to which his novels have been compared in their intricate inlaid subplots. Waugh also provided the artwork for many of his books having been greatly inspired by a chance meeting with Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí at the Slade School of Fine Art in Bloomsbury. According to Picasso, Waugh attempted to remove Dalí's trademark moustache, suspecting it a surrealist joke. Dalí was furious and never spoke to Waugh again; Waugh took his revenge by caricaturing the artist in a later novel (Brideshead Revisited, where he portrayed him as Catelli, 'a gauche Spanish artisan ... with a less than attractive limp'.)
Waugh also worked as a journalist before he published his first novel in 1928, Decline and Fall. The title is from Gibbon, but whereas the Georgian historian charted the bankruptcy and dissolution of the Roman Empire, Waugh's was a witty account of quite a different sort of dissolution, following the career of the harmless Paul Pennyfeather, a student of divinity, as he is accidentally expelled from Oxford for indecency ("I expect you'll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir," says the College porter to Paul, "That's what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour") and enters into the worlds of schoolmastering, high society, and the white slave trade. Other novels about England's "Bright Young People" followed, and all were well received by both critics and the general public.
Waugh entered into a brief, unhappy marriage in 1928 to the Hon. Evelyn Florence Margaret Winifred Gardner, youngest daughter of Lord Burghclere and Lady Winifred Herbert. Their friends called them "He-Evelyn" and "She-Evelyn." Gardner's infidelity with the writer John Heygate would provide the background for Waugh's novel A Handful of Dust, but her husband had made little effort to make her happy, choosing to spend much time on his own. The marriage ended in divorce in 1930.
Waugh converted to Catholicism and, after his marriage was annulled by the Church, he married Laura Herbert, a Catholic, daughter of Aubrey Herbert, and a cousin of his first wife (they were both granddaughters of Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon). This marriage was successful, lasting the rest of his life, producing seven children, one of whom, Mary, died in infancy. His son Auberon, named after Laura's brother, followed in his footsteps as a writer and journalist.
Waugh's fame continued to grow between the wars, based on his satires of contemporary upper class English society, written in prose that was seductively simple and elegant. His style was often inventive (a chapter, for example, would be written entirely in the form of a dialogue of telephone calls). His conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1930 was a watershed in his life and his writing. It elevated Catholic themes in his work, and aspects of his deep and sincere faith, both implicit and explicit, can be found in all of his later work.
Waugh's conversion to Catholicism was widely discussed in London society and newspapers in September 1930. In response to the gossip, Waugh made his own contribution in article entitled, "Converted to Rome: Why It Has Happened to Me." It wasn't about ritual, said Waugh, nor about submission to the views of others. The essential issue, he believed, was making a choice between Christianity or chaos. Waugh saw in Europe's increasing materialism a major decline in what he felt created Western Civilization in the first place.
"It is no longer possible ... ," he wrote, "to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis upon which it is based."He added that Catholicism was the "most complete and vital form" of Christianity. His faith and his conviction persisted throughout all the chapters of his life.
At the same time (and perhaps because it integrated both his beliefs and his natural "dark humour"), Black Mischief and A Handful of Dust contain episodes of the most savage farce. In some of his fiction Waugh derives comedy from the cruelty of mischance; ingenuous characters are subject to bizarre calamities in a universe that seems to lack a shaping and protecting God, or any other source of order and comfort. The period between the wars also saw extensive travels around the Mediterranean and Red Sea, Spitsbergen, Africa (most famously Ethiopia) and South America. Sections of the numerous travel books which resulted are often cited as among the best writing in this genre. A compendium of Waugh's favourite travel writing has been issued under the title When The Going Was Good.
With the advent of the World War II, Waugh used his relationships with powerful people, such as Randolph Churchill (son of Winston) to achieve a service commission. Though 36 years old with poor eyesight, he was commissioned in the Royal Marines in 1940. Though personally brave, he did not always work well with his subordinates, raising some concern that the men under his command might shoot him instead of the enemy. Promoted to captain, Waugh found life in the Marines dull.
Waugh participated in the failed attempt to take Dakar from the Vichy French in late 1940. Following a joint exercise with No. 3 Commando (Army), he applied to join them and was accepted. Waugh took part in an ill-fated commando raid on the coast of Libya. As special assistant to the famed commando leader Robert Laycock, Waugh showed conspicuous bravery during the fighting in Crete in 1941, supervising the evacuation of troops while under attack by Stuka dive bombers.
Later, Waugh was placed on extended leave and later reassigned to the Royal Horse Guards.
In the preface to the revised edition of Brideshead Revisited he writes, "In December 1943 I had the good fortune when parachuting to incur a minor injury which afforded me a rest from military service. This was extended by a sympathetic commanding officer, who let me remain unemployed until June 1944 when the book was finished."He was recalled for a military/diplomatic mission to Yugoslavia in 1944 at the request of his old friend Randolph Churchill. He and Churchill narrowly escaped capture or death when the Germans undertook Operation Rösselsprung, and paratroops and glider-borne storm troops attacked the partisans' headquarters where they were staying. During his time in Yugoslavia Waugh produced a formidable report detailing Tito's persecution of Catholics and the clergy. It was "buried" by Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden as being largely irrelevant.
Some of Waugh's best-loved and best-known novels come from this period. Brideshead Revisited (1945) is an evocation of a vanished pre-war England. It's an extraordinary work which in many ways has come to define Waugh and his view of his world. It not only painted a rich picture of life in England and at Oxford University at a time (before World War II) which Waugh himself loved and embellished in the novel, but it allowed him to share his feelings about his Catholic faith, principally through the actions of his characters. The book was applauded by his friends, not just for an evocation of a time now — and then — long gone, but also for its examination of the manifold pressures within a traditional Catholic family. It was a huge success in Britain and in the United States. Decades later a television adaptation (1981) achieved popularity and acclaim in both countries, and around the world; a film adaptation was released in 2008. Waugh revised the novel in the late 1950s, saying that he wrote the novel during the grey privations of the latter war years and later found parts of it "distasteful on a full stomach".
Much of Waugh's wartime experience is reflected in the Sword of Honour trilogy. It consists of three novels, Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955) and Unconditional Surrender (1961), which loosely parallel his wartime experiences. Critics felt that these were some of the best books written about the war. Many of his portraits are unforgettable, and often show striking resemblances to noted real personalities. Waugh biographer Christopher Sykes, for instance, felt that the officer in the Sword of Honour trilogy, Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook, "bears a very strong resemblance to" Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, a friend of the author's father-in-law. Waugh was familiar with Carton de Wiart through the club to which he belonged. The fictional commando leader, Tommy Blackhouse, is based on Major-General Sir Robert Laycock, a real-life commando leader and friend of Waugh's.
The period after the war saw Waugh living with his family in the West Country, first at Piers Court, and from 1956 onwards, at Combe Florey, Somerset, where he enjoyed the life of a country gentleman and continued to write. (Combe Florey was bought from his widow by their son Auberon. Waugh was highly critical of Vatican II's 1960s changes to his beloved Tridentine liturgy, which he in part loved for what he saw as its timelessness. (Cf. Bitter Trial by Waugh and ed. by S. Reid)
For a base in London, he was a member of White's and the St James's Club in Piccadilly.
The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) is a thinly-veiled fictionalisation of Waugh's own real-life experience of hallucinations while on a cruise ship. This short but disturbing malady was caused by the interaction between alcohol and chloral sleeping medication. Unlike delirium tremens, the condition induces auditory hallucinations rather than visual ones, which in turn led Waugh to acute paranoia. The illness was remedied once medication had been changed. During this period he wrote Helena (1953), a fictional account of the Empress Helena and the finding of the True Cross, which he regarded as his best work.
Waugh's health declined in later life. He put on weight, and the sleeping draughts he continued to take, combined with alcohol, cigars and little exercise, weakened his health. His productivity also declined, and his output was uneven. His last published work, Basil Seal Rides Again, revisiting the characters of his earliest satirical works, did not meet critical or popular approval, but is still read today. At the same time, he continued as a journalist and was well received.
He appeared in two television interviews with the BBC in the early 1960s, the only time his appearance was recorded publicly, during which the interviewers sought to corner him as an anachronistic figure. He overcame them, particularly in the second interview with novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard on the Monitor programme in 1964. (The other interview was on John Freeman's Face to Face series broadcast on 18 June 1960.) An earlier radio interview on the BBC Home Service in 1953 was somewhat less convivial.
Waugh's diaries, published in the 1970s, were widely acclaimed. His correspondence with lifelong friends, such as Nancy Mitford, is still published today. He is a fruitful source for biographers; three major works have been produced since Christopher Sykes's friendly and familiar account of Waugh's life was published in the 1970s.
Evelyn Waugh died, aged 62, on 10 April 1966, after attending a Latin Mass on Easter Sunday. He suffered a heart attack at his home, Combe Florey. His estate at probate was valued at £20,068. This did not include the value of his lucrative copyrights, which Waugh put in a trust (humorously named the 'Save the Children Fund') for his children. He is buried at Combe Florey, Somerset..
Hugh Patrick Lygon (2 November 1904 – 19 August 1936 Rothenburg, Bavaria) was the second son of William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp, and is often believed to be the inspiration for Lord Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. He was a friend of Waugh's at Oxford (A. L. Rowse believed the two to be lovers), where both were members of the Hypocrites' Club.
He was educated at Eton and Pembroke College, Oxford. After leaving Oxford he worked in a bank in Paris before working in the City.
Lygon died in Germany where he was on a motoring tour with his friend, the artist Henry Winch, son of Lady Newborough. Lygon was standing in the road to ask the way and fell backwards, hitting his head on a stone. He died later due to a fractured skull, having spent four days in a hospital in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. His body was later returned to England.
William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp KG, KCMG, PC (20 February 1872 – 14 November 1938), styled Viscount Elmley until 1891, was a British Liberal politician. He was Governor of New South Wales between 1899 and 1901, a member of the Liberal administrations of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith between 1905 and 1915 and leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords between 1924 and 1931. When political enemies threatened to make public his homosexuality he resigned from office to go into exile. Lord Beauchamp is generally supposed to have been the model for Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh's novel, Brideshead Revisited. His second son was Hon. Hugh Patrick Lygon (2 November 1904 – 19 August 1936, Rothenburg, Bavaria), said to be the model for Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited and, according to A.L. Rowse, Evelyn Waugh's lover, both students at Oxford. (P: Leslie Ward (1851–1922). Caricature of William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp. Caption read "New South Wales", 1899)
Beauchamp was the eldest son of Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp, by his first wife, Lady Mary Catherine, daughter of Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he showed an interest in evangelism, joining the Christian Social Union.
Beauchamp succeeded his father in the earldom in 1891 at the age of 18, and was mayor of Worcester between 1895 and 1896. A progressive in his ideas, he was surprised to be offered the post of Governor of New South Wales in May 1899. Though he was good at the job, and enjoyed the company of local artists and writers, he was unpopular in the colony due to a series of gaffes and misunderstandings, most notably over his reference to the 'birthstain' of Australia's convict origins. His open association with the high church and Anglo-Catholicism caused increased perturbation in the Evangelical Council. In Sydney, William Carr Smith, rector of St James' Church was his chaplain. Beauchamp returned to Britain in 1900, saying that his duties had failed to stimulate him.
In 1902, Beauchamp joined the Liberal Party and the same year he married Lady Lettice Mary Elizabeth Grosvenor, daughter of Victor Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor. When the Liberals came to power under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in December 1905, Beauchamp was appointed Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms and was sworn of the Privy Council in January 1906. In July 1907 he became Lord Steward of the Household, a post he retained when H. H. Asquith became Prime Minister in 1908. He entered the cabinet as Lord President of the Council in June 1910, a post he held until November of the same year, when he was appointed First Commissioner of Works. He was again Lord President of the Council from 1914 to 1915. However, he was not a member of the coalition government formed by Asquith in May 1915. Lord Beauchamp never returned to ministerial office but was Liberal Leader in the House of Lords from 1924 to 1931, supporting the ailing party with his substantial fortune.
Freeman & Co. William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp as Governor of NSW circa 1900 (State Library of NSW)
Lord Beauchamp was made Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire in 1911, carried the Sword of State at the coronation of King George V, was made Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1913 and a Knight of the Garter in 1914. He was also Chancellor of the University of London and a Six Master (Governor of RGS Worcester).
In June 1901, he received the honorary Doctor of Laws (DLL) from the University of Glasgow.
In 1931, Lord Beauchamp was "outed" as homosexual. Although Beauchamp's homosexuality was an open secret in parts of high society, and one that his political opponents had refrained from using against him despite its illegality, Lady Beauchamp was oblivious to it, and professed a confusion as to what homosexuality was when her husband's was revealed. He had numerous affairs at Madresfield and Walmer Castle, with his partners ranging from servants to socialites, and including local men.
In 1930, while on a trip to Australia, it became common knowledge in London society that one of the men escorting him, Robert Bernays, a member of the Liberal Party, was a lover of his. It was reported to King George V and Queen Mary by his Tory brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminster, who hoped to ruin the Liberal Party through Beauchamp, as well as Beauchamp personally due a private dislike he had taken. Homosexuality was a criminal offence at the time, and the King was horrified, rumoured to have said that "I thought men like that shot themselves". The King had a personal interest in the case, as his sons Henry and George (who was bisexual) had visited Madresfield in the past. George was then in a relationship with Beauchamp's daughter Mary, and this was cut off by her father's outing.
After sufficient evidence had been gathered by the Duke, Beauchamp was made an offer to separate from his wife Lettice (without a divorce), retire on a pretence, and then leave the country. Beauchamp refused and, shortly afterwards, the Countess Beauchamp obtained a divorce. There was no public scandal, but Lord Beauchamp resigned all his offices except that of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and went into exile on the continent (fearing his arrest if he did not), briefly contemplating suicide.
Lord Beauchamp is generally supposed to have been the model for Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh's novel, Brideshead Revisited. In his 1977 book, Homosexuals in History, historian A. L. Rowse suggests that Beauchamp's failed appointment as Governor of New South Wales was the inspiration for Hilaire Belloc's satirical children's poem, Lord Lundy which has as its final line a command from his aged grandfather "Go out and govern New South Wales!". Nevertheless, says Rowse, "Lord Lundy's chronic weakness was tears. This was not Lord Beauchamp's weakness: he enjoyed life, was always gay."
On 26 July 1902, Lord Beauchamp married Lady Lettice Grosvenor, daughter of Victor Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor, and Lady Sibell Lumley, and granddaughter of the 1st Duke of Westminster. They had three sons and four daughters:
1.William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp (3 July 1903 – 3 January 1979), the last Earl Beauchamp. His widow, Mona, née Else Schiewe, died 1989.
2.Hon. Hugh Patrick Lygon (2 November 1904 – 19 August 1936, Rothenburg, Bavaria), said to be the model for Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited.
3.Lady Lettice Lygon (16 Jun 1906–1973) who married 1930 (div. 1958) Sir Richard Charles Geers Cotterell, 5th Bt. (1907–1978) and had issue.
4.Lady Sibell Lygon (10 October 1907 – 31 October 2005) who married 11 February 1939 (bigamously) and 1949 (legally) Michael Rowley (d. 19 September 1952), stepson of her maternal uncle the 2nd Duke of Westminster.
5.Lady Mary Lygon (12 February 1910 – 27 September 1982) who married 1937 (div) HH Prince Vsevolod Ivanovich of Russia, and had no issue.
6.Lady Dorothy Lygon (22 February 1912 – 13 November 2001) who married 1985 (sep) Robert Heber-Percy (d. 1987) of Faringdon, Berkshire. They had no issue.
7.Hon. Richard Edward Lygon (25 December 1916 – 1970) who married 1939 Patricia Janet Norman; their younger daughter Rosalind Lygon, now Lady Morrison (b. 1946), inherited Madresfield Court in 1979.
Lady Beauchamp died in 1936, aged 59, estranged from all her children except her youngest child. Lord Beauchamp died of cancer in New York City, aged 66. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, William.
Of the Earl's seven children, all but the second son Hugh (who was homosexual) married, but only two left issue.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4410307.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.