Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1903-10-28
Death 1966-04-10
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

English novelist and travel writer.

From the description of Evelyn Waugh Collection, 1843-1994 (bulk 1910-1966). (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122492298

Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh (1903-1966) ranks as one of the outstanding satiric novelists of the 20th century. Hilariously savage wit and complete command of the English language were hallmarks of his style. He was born in London on Oct. 28, 1903, the son of Arthur Waugh, critic, author, and editor of many books, who was the influential chairman of the London publishing firm Chapman and Hall. Evelyn''s elder brother, Alec, became a novelist and writer of travel books. Evelyn was educated at Lancing and at Oxford University, where his deeply religious temperament and literary abilities, which had manifested themselves early, received encouragement. He became a convert to the Roman Catholic Church in 1930. Waugh enlisted in the Royal Marines in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. He later shifted to the commandos, with the rank of major, and served until 1945. He saw service in West Africa and Crete, and as a British liaison officer he parachuted into Yugoslavia, where he narrowly escaped death in the crash of a transport plane. After the war he settled in Gloucestershire, with his wife and their three sons and three daughters. In 1946 he wrote: "I live in a shabby stone house in the country, where nothing is under a hundred years old except the plumbing and that does not work. I collect old books in an inexpensive, desultory way. I have a fast-emptying cellar of wine and gardens fast reverting to the jungle. I am very contentedly married. I have numerous children whom I see once a day for ten, I hope, awe-inspiring minutes." In 1946 Waugh made a widely acclaimed lecture tour in the United States. One interviewer described him as looking "a little like a boyish Winston Churchill." Another wrote of him: "Conservatively dressed, bland and cherubic in appearance, his manner sardonic, he brought to life the spirit of his work." At this time Waugh announced that in his future work he had two primary concerns: "a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man more fully, which, to me, means only one thing, man in his relation to God." The English critic Philip Toynbee, in reviewing a biographical portrait of Waugh written by a country neighbor, Frances Donaldson, wrote in the Observer in 1968: "What does emerge with great freshness is that Waugh was a man who could charm the birds off a tree; that he could be the best possible company--witty, extravagant, ebullient; that his aggressiveness, exclusiveness, fear of boredom and fierce love of privacy were all far stronger emotions than his ''soft-centred'' (Mrs. Donaldson''s good phrase) regard for the upper classes. What emerges, too, is that he was exceptionally kind and considerate to unknown writers--a great and rare quality in a successful author--and that he was capable of the most notable self-sacrifice." Waugh died in Taunton, Somerset, on April 10, 1966.

From the description of Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10678038

Evelyn Waugh was an English novelist, short-story writer, essayist, poet, and journalist.

From the description of Evelyn Waugh collection of papers, 1923-1968. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122615525

From the guide to the Evelyn Waugh collection of papers, 1923-1968, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh (1903-1966), the novelist. For fuller details of his life and achievements see the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the guide to the Autograph letters and manuscripts of Evelyn Waugh, including the manuscript of, Vile Bodies, with related material, 1912-1993, (Leeds University Library)

English author Evelyn Waugh published travel books, short stories, essays, and literary criticism, but is best remembered as a novelist. Born into a literary family, he initially preferred decorative arts, but eventually resigned himself to writing and published a series of well-received novels. His novels are stylish and satirical, and are populated by some of the most memorable and archetypal characters in fiction; his most popular work is probably Brideshead Revisited.

From the description of Evelyn Waugh letter and postal cards to Charles Quinn, 1949-1950. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 57520032

English author.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Combe Florey, near Taunton, to Mr. Missen, 1964 July 28. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270856475

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : London and Chagford, Devon, to Mr. Light, [no year] Mar. 30 and [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270856479

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], probably to the editor of the Daily Express, [n.d., late April 1930]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270661277

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh, born October 28, 1903, was the second son of Arthur, a managing director of Chapman & Hall, Publishers, and Catherine Raban Waugh. Reading and writing played a significant role in the home-life of young Evelyn, whose older brother Alec also became a well-known writer. Waugh began writing and illustrating short stories at the age of four, and at the age of nine he and a group of friends produced a creative magazine for their Pistol Troop club.

In addition to his youthful interest in writing, Waugh developed a strong interest in religion. When his brother's escapades made it impossible for Waugh to follow the family tradition of attending Sherbourne prep school, his father found a place for him at Lancing, a school with a strong religious tradition. During his tenure at Lancing, Waugh performed well in his studies, developed into something of a social bully, decided that he was an atheist, and earned a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford.

When Waugh entered Oxford in 1922 he found his new freedom to be intoxicating. He soon found himself part of a crowd similar to the one he later described in Brideshead Revisited (1945), which included Harold Acton. He did very little studying and left after two years with many experiences and debts, but no degree. After a brief foray into art school he took a series of low-paying teaching positions. In 1927 he began to write steadily and launched himself into a successful career.

The critical success of his first book, a biography, Rossetti: His Life and Works (1928), and the popular success of Decline and Fall (1928) brought Waugh to the attention of the reading public. The financial success of Decline and Fall made it possible for Waugh to marry Evelyn Gardner, called She-Evelyn by their friends. The marriage was short lived, but served as a backdrop for several of Waugh's later works, including Vile Bodies (1930) and Labels: A Mediterranean Journal (1930). Also in 1930, Waugh converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.

For the next several years Waugh spent his time writing short stories, travel books, a biography of Edmund Campion, and several more novels including Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934), and Scoop (1938). He obtained an annulment of his first marriage and in 1937 married Laura Herbert, with whom he had seven children.

1939 brought the start of WWII and Waugh took the earliest opportunity to join in the defense of England. As part of the Home Guard in 1940 he participated in the fiasco of the Battle of Crete which was the basis for Put Out More Flags (1942). Waugh was not a good leader, despite fearless action in the face of battle, and in 1943 he resigned from his Commando unit. In 1944 he was sent to Yugoslavia as part of a mission to shore up Tito's partisan efforts in the German held territory. During this mission he completed his best known and most controversial work, Brideshead Revisited (1945).

Discharged from the military in 1945, Waugh continued to write and travel. He went to Hollywood in 1947 to work on a screenplay for Brideshead, which fell through when he refused to give up the final say on the script. While he was in California he found a rich source of material: Forest Lawn Memorial Park. This lavish funeral home inspired Waugh to write The Loved One (1948), one of his funniest and most popular books.

Waugh continued to write, though he became increasingly reclusive. Growing health problems related to a lifetime of heavy drinking, smoking, and the use of sedatives to induce sleep, limited public appearances. On a cruise in 1956 he suffered a bout of paranoid hallucinations which formed the centerpiece of his most autobiographical novel the Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957). Waugh lived until 1966, ending his writing career with the publication of The Sword of Honor Trilogy (1965).

From the guide to the Evelyn Waugh Collection TXRC99-A13., 1843-1994, (bulk 1910-1966), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

English novelist.

Waugh's first wife was Evelyn Gardner Waugh.

From the description of Letters and manuscripts, 1927-1965. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122362204

English author.

Waugh is known primarily for his satirical novels, which criticized London society in the early twentieth century. He also produced a number of other works, including biographies, travel books and short stories. He became a Catholic in 1930.

From the description of Evelyn Waugh Collection, 1941-1982. (Boston College). WorldCat record id: 35816662

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Subjects:

  • Upper class--England--Fiction
  • Authors--20th century
  • England--Social life and customs--20th century
  • South America--Travel and description
  • Authors--England--20th century
  • Middle East--Travel and description
  • Authors, English--20th century--Correspondence
  • Catholics--England--Fiction
  • Male authors, English--20th century--Correspondence
  • Speech and social status
  • Catholics--Fiction
  • Social classes
  • English language--Social aspects
  • English literature--20th century
  • Africa--Travel and description
  • English literature--Film and video adaptations
  • Nobility--Language
  • Upper class--Fiction
  • Authors, English--20th century--Manuscripts
  • Aristocracy (Social class)--Language
  • Letters 20th century

Occupations:

  • Authors, English

Places:

  • England (as recorded)
  • Middle East (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • South America (as recorded)
  • Africa (as recorded)