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Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell: 1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... if only from simple loyalty to the landowner. Russell’s life was not remarkable, on the surface. Evelyn Waugh said he was ‘exquisitely entertaining’, but this is ambiguous: he may have meant that Russell was a figure of fun, like William Boot. When Russell died in 1947 he was described in the Times as ‘that most endearing of Somerset ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... Writing in the Tablet in 1951, Evelyn Waugh described Christopher Isherwood as the best of those British writers who had ‘captured’ the Thirties. It was not, Waugh being Waugh, high praise. Auden he felt to be a mysterious cove comprehensible only to his pals (among whom Waugh did not number himself ...

Snooping

E.S. Turner, 1 October 1981

Nella Last’s War: A Mother’s Diary, 1939-45 
edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming.
Falling Wall Press, 320 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 905046 15 3
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... and findings; respectable journals hailed a new form of social research, while others jeered; Evelyn Waugh complained of ‘pseudoscientific showmanship’. During World War Two a minute by an official in the Ministry of Home Security described Mass-Observation reports on blitz morale as ‘a most extraordinary mixture of fact, fiction and dangerous ...

Possessed

A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn WaughNo Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... story Decline and Fall, but it would not have been a bad title. On one level, the last 27 years of Evelyn Waugh’s life make melancholy reading. The book begins with Waugh’s sometimes bizarre career in the Army; it chronicles his prodigious commercial success as the author of Brideshead Revisited. It watches him ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary, 27 April 2000

An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... Thame between the world wars, described himself in Who’s Who as ‘Pioneer Amateur Innkeeper’. Evelyn Waugh, sending him a copy of Decline and Fall, inscribed it to ‘Oxford’s only civilising influence’. To those who, in 1931, goggled and giggled at his innkeeping confessions, Fothergill was the contumacious dandy for ever locked in combat with ...

No snarling

Fatema Ahmed: P.G. Wodehouse, 3 November 2005

Wodehouse 
by Joseph Connolly.
Haus, 192 pp., £9.99, September 2004, 1 904341 68 3
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Wodehouse: A Life 
by Robert McCrum.
Penguin, 542 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 14 100048 1
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... But she was a surprising choice for official biographer after her remarks in a 1967 memoir of Evelyn Waugh: ‘Although I had known Plummie Wodehouse all my life, I had never been able to read his books. I cannot see the point of them.’ Fifteen years later, she was still far from convinced: ‘Women as a whole do not care for masculine ...

Tracts for the Times

Karl Miller, 17 August 1989

Intellectuals 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 385 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 297 79395 0
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CounterBlasts No 1: God, Man and Mrs Thatcher 
by Jonathan Raban.
Chatto, 72 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3470 4
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... Those intellectuals! Hemingway was an intellectual who longed for death. ‘His contemporary Evelyn Waugh ... likewise longed for death. But Waugh was not an intellectual: he did not think he could refashion the rules of life out of his own head but submitted to the traditional discipline of his church, dying of ...

On the Titanic

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ocean Liners’ at the V&A, 24 May 2018

... Orion was ‘the first British ship to truly adopt modernist principles’ and was probably what Evelyn Waugh had in mind in Brideshead Revisited: ‘Yards and yards of biscuit-coloured wood … that had been bent round corners … blotting paper carpet’ all ‘designed perhaps by a sanitary engineer’. The V&A’s principal exhibition space has ...

Snouty

John Bayley, 4 June 1987

The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... the compensation for his complete failure to be ‘a writer’. Young diarists usually show off. Evelyn Waugh records in 1956 that in the hope of understanding his son Auberon better ‘I read the diaries I kept at his age. I was appalled at the vulgarity and priggishness.’ The point, as Dorothy Wordsworth put it, is not ‘to quarrel with ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... are generally sighed in an elegiac, Chekhovian way, as if in commiseration with Tony Hancock or Evelyn Waugh: but I think that by ‘shrewd’ Shakespeare really meant shrewish, bitchy, catty, and by ‘unhappy’ he meant ill-omened, sick, really bad news. Alternative Comedians are often shrewd and unhappy in the older sense of the words. Anyone ...

Down with Cosmopolitanism

Gillian Darley, 18 May 2000

Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... for Marks and Spencer as well as Richard Neutra’s blonde American beach houses. Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly, Freya Stark, even Penelope Chetwode (Mrs Betjeman) shared the pages with respected authorities on building materials, the English town (‘one must not be too gay or too aggressive in a country town’) and building types. There ...

Tush Ye Shall Not Die

John Bossy, 23 February 1995

William Tyndale: A Biography 
by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £19.95, September 1994, 0 300 06132 3
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The Renaissance Bible: Scholarship, Sacrifice and Subjectivity 
by Debora Kuller Shuger.
California, 297 pp., £32, December 1994, 0 520 08480 2
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... family in that part of Gloucestershire where the Cotswolds meet the Severn, since then the home of Evelyn Waugh (temporarily: the ghost of Tyndale got the better of him), of a bird sanctuary and a power station. Then it was most famous for the cloth trade, which gave Tyndale plenty of support during his life. He went to Oxford, where he discovered ...

Mistress of Disappearances

Frank Kermode: Eluding Muriel Spark, 10 September 2009

Muriel Spark: The Biography 
by Martin Stannard.
Weidenfeld, 627 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 81592 1
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... Martin Stannard, the author of an immense biography of Evelyn Waugh, now publishes this excellent and far from brief life of Muriel Spark. The book was well under way while the novelist was still alive, and he expresses his gratitude for her ‘consent, encouragement and active assistance . . . She patiently answered my questions, offered interviews and engaged in a huge correspondence ...

Mr Toad

John Bayley, 20 October 1994

Evelyn Waugh 
by Selina Hastings.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 600 pp., £20, October 1994, 1 85619 223 7
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... without humour’. A surprising charge: but, on reflection, surprisingly accurate. Waugh, in his black style, had no more humour than P.G. Wodehouse in his rosy style. Waugh deeply admired Wodehouse, and read and re-read him all his working life. But humour in fiction is about an interest in real people, and ...

How many nipples had Graham Greene?

Colm Tóibín, 9 June 1994

... rather shocked by the appearance of a long review by Barbara Cartland.’ In April 1979 Auberon Waugh wrote to him: ‘My friend Ferdie Mount has not drawn a sober breath since hearing of some kind word you sent about him to Alexander Chancellor.’ Greene had written to Skvorecky about Evelyn Waugh: ‘He was a ...

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