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... It should now be generally agreed except possibly in the Fens that Evelyn Waugh was the greatest English novelist of his generation. Certainly Graham Greene, Henry Green and Angus Wilson thought so, although they and not he won the worldly honours Waugh would dearly have loved ...

Never the twain

Mark Amory, 4 March 1982

Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... In a letter to Cyril Connolly in 1948 Evelyn Waugh listed the ideas that had been in his mind when he was at work on The Loved One: immediately after ‘over-excitement with the scene at Forest Lawn’ came ‘The Anglo-American impasse. Never the twain shall meet.’ Not a new thought even thirty years ago, but, though we may run into one another occasionally in the corridors of the Humanity Research Center of the University of Texas (their territory), or share a train compartment on the way to Combe Florey (ours), it still holds good for those in the Waugh industry ...

Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... The letters exchanged by Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh over twenty years were written, we are told, ‘to amuse, distract or tease’, a welcome function no doubt in times of bogged-down creativity. But it is clear they were also written to amuse, distract and tease posterity, since both correspondents were confident their dispatches would end up in the public domain, a consideration which did nothing to inhibit the flow of malice ...

Pilgrim’s Progress

Michael Davie, 4 December 1980

The Letters of Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Mark Amory.
Weidenfeld, 664 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77657 6
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... The external paraphernalia of Evelyn Waugh included check suits, an ear-trumpet, a watch-chain, cigars, unfashionable Victorian paintings, a large family and a West Country manor house. To those interested by what lay behind these characteristically English defences, this selection of his letters may come as a disappointment ...

Cold Shoulders, Short Trousers

Ian Hamilton, 12 March 1992

Will this do? 
by Auberon Waugh.
Century, 288 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7126 3734 6
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Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper 
edited by Artemis Cooper.
Hodder, 344 pp., £19.99, October 1991, 0 340 53488 5
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... When Evelyn Waugh died in 1966, his son Auberon felt that a ‘great brooding presence’ had been lifted ‘not only from the house but from the whole of existence’. Auberon was in his twenties then, and – as he tells it in his book of memoirs – he had long ago got used to living in the shadow of his famously unpleasant dad ...

Baby Face

John Bayley, 24 May 1990

William Gerhardie: A Biography 
by Dido Davies.
Oxford, 411 pp., £25, April 1990, 0 19 211794 7
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Memoirs of a Polyglot 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 381 pp., £5.95, April 1990, 0 86072 111 6
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Futility 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 198 pp., £4.95, April 1990, 0 86072 112 4
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God’s Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age 1890-1940 
by William Gerhardie, edited by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky.
Hogarth, 360 pp., £8.95, April 1990, 0 7012 0887 2
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... Who said of whom: ‘I have talent but he has genius’? Evelyn Waugh had been reading Futility, which first came out in 1922, but his favourite Gerhardie novel was to be Jazz and Jasper. This almost forgotten work appeared in 1927, two years earlier than Vile Bodies. Its author wanted to call it Doom, a title not adopted until the 1974 edition ...

Sisterly

A.N. Wilson, 21 October 1993

Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 538 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 340 53784 1
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... course I screamed with laughter.’ When a Spaniard suggests to her sister Lady Mosley mat Evelyn Waugh was only a Roman Catholic ‘for a joke’, ‘we screamed with laughter.’ And so on and so on. I am not being so puritanical as to deny that – at the time – all this must have been screamingly funny. On the printed page, I fear, it can ...

Blacking

John Bayley, 4 December 1986

Evelyn WaughThe Early Years 1903-1939 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 537 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 460 04632 2
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... Evelyn Waugh never wanted to be a writer, still less a novelist. That may explain both the weakness of his books and their remarkable and continuing popularity. Readers love an amateur with no intellectual pretensions – one of themselves, in fact – who is also an expert craftsman: and Waugh’s novels are as solidly made as the best furniture ...

Orders of Empire

Keith Kyle, 7 March 1985

Waugh in Abyssinia 
by Evelyn Waugh.
Methuen, 253 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 413 54830 9
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Remote People 
by Evelyn Waugh.
Penguin, 208 pp., £2.50, January 1985, 9780140095425
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Haile Selassie’s War 
by Anthony Mockler.
Oxford, 453 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 215867 8
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... while: everyone else is black, except that a few Europeans and Americans are honorary whites.’ Evelyn Waugh had the same experience. He went to the imperial coronation of Haile Selassie in 1930 and wrote the country up in fiction (Black Mischief) and non-fiction (Remote People). In 1935, he was sent back by the Daily Mail to record the coming Italian ...

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... We missed you at Chantilly,’ Ann Fleming wrote to Evelyn Waugh in 1956, after she’d been to visit Diana Cooper in France. ‘Mr Gaitskell came to lunch and fell in love with Diana ... He had never seen cocktails with mint in them or a magnum of pink champagne. He was very happy. I lied and told him that all the upper class were beautiful and intelligent and he must not allow his vermin to destroy them ...

‘John Betjeman: A Life in Pictures’

Gavin Ewart, 6 December 1984

... other poets so much less friended, uncouther. He had great talent – but Lord Alfred Douglas and Evelyn Waugh (less awful) – really, who needs them?5 Lord Alfred needed selling to the smugglers6 for a few beers, with his ghastly poems (and who, now, reads them?). I’d rather they honoured Grigson or Bunting7 or anyone less televised. Someone ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists, 26 January 2006

... to talk to Powell while he was being painted. Lamb’s portraits – of Powell, of Lady Violet, of Evelyn Waugh – are the most assured and historically significant in the exhibition. Perhaps there is some correlation between Powell’s at times curiously subfusc prose and the sober Camden Town colour and gestural reticence of Lamb’s portrait of ...

Defender of the Faith

C.H. Sisson, 16 February 1984

The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Donat Gallagher.
Methuen, 662 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 413 50370 4
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... Very occasionally it is worth noticing a bad book at some length’ – we have it on Evelyn Waugh’s own authority – ‘if only to give reputable publishers a reminder that they must not be insolent in what they try and put over on a public already stupefied by literary overproduction.’ The present case is not quite of the kind Waugh had in mind ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... On​ National Service in Cyprus in 1958, Auberon Waugh, having ‘miraculously’ become an officer, was sent out with his troop to cover the Nicosia-Kyrenia road between the Turkish village of Guenyeli and the Greek village of Autokoi. This was during the civil war at the time known as the Cyprus Emergency, and the aim of the mission was to prevent either village taking reprisals against the other ...

Enfield was nothing

P.N. Furbank: Norman Lewis, 18 December 2003

The Tomb in Seville 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 150 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 224 07120 3
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... solely to his own personal adventures and escapes’ – the very things which, for good or evil, Evelyn Waugh and Peter Fleming and Robert Byron, not to mention Redmond O’Hanlon, assume to be the heart of travel writing. This leads us to the reflection that travel writing, or anyway the best sort, only pretends to be informative. The author, out of ...

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