- NAME: Evelyn Waugh
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Artist, Journalist, Author
- BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1903
- DEATH DATE: April 10, 1966
- Did You Know?: Evelyn Waugh's first wife was also named Evelyn, so they were called He-Evelyn and She-Evelyn.
- EDUCATION: Lancing College, Hertford College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Combe Florey, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
- Full Name: Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh
- AKA: Evelyn Waugh
Best Known For
English writer Evelyn Waugh is regarded by many as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his day. His works include The Loved One and Brideshead Revisited.
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Evelyn Waugh was born on October 28, 1903, in London, England. After short periods as an art student and schoolmaster, he devoted himself to both traveling and writing novels. His novels are unusually highly wrought and precisely written. Those written before 1939 may be described as satirical. During World War II, Waugh's writing took a more serious and ambitious turn. He also wrote travel books. Waugh died in Somerset, England, in 1966.
"Don't hold your parents up to contempt. After all, you are their son, and it is just possible that you may take after them."
"Punctuality is the virtue of the bored."
"Instead of this absurd division into sexes, they ought to class people as static and dynamic."
"When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them."
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was born on October 28, 1903, in London, England, the second son of Catherine and Arthur Waugh, a managing director of a publisher that handled the work of writer Charles Dickens (whom Waugh came to loathe). Both Waugh, known as Evelyn, and his older brother, Alec, were destined to become well-known novelists. The younger boy began writing and illustrating short stories as a small child. "I wrote my first piece of fiction at 7: The Curse of the Horse Race," Evelyn Waugh later told a Paris Review interviewer. "It was vivid and full of action. Then ... there was The World to Come, written in the meter of Hiawatha." Waugh followed that up, he said, with a 5,000-word novel about school life that was "intolerably bad."
Waugh was close to his mother, but felt somewhat shut out by the bond between his father and older brother. Due to a homosexual scandal involving his brother at prep school, Waugh was forced to attend Lancing, a strongly religious school. He resented the displacement, but managed to distinguish himself as a writer and an artist, if a bit of a cynic and schoolyard bully—photographer Cecil Beaton was one of his "victims"—but he still earned a scholarship to Hertford College in Oxford.
Waugh loved his life at Oxford, quickly adapting and adopting the trappings of student life: pipe, bike and a wry, cynical attitude. He left before earning his degree when he was "expelled for drunkenness," and took a series of low-paying teaching jobs while trying to be an artist. After going to see a friend, Anthony Powell, who was working with the English publishing company Duckworth, they threw Waugh a bone, commissioning a biographical work of artist Daniel Gabriel Rossetti. Waugh was ultimately displeased with the book, but it and his next effort, the novel Decline and Fall, established his reputation.
A series of military appointments, solitary travels and an unhappy first marriage fueled Waugh's subsequent works, and although his own assessment of his work varied widely, he is considered a master of sardonic wit and a wordsmith of technical brilliance.
In addition to novels and nonfiction works, Waugh wrote travel books, short stories and articles. His service during World War II in the Royal Marines and Royal Horse Guards provided rich material for his later novels. In 1944, he served as a journalist on a British military mission to the Yugoslav Partisans, covering Haile Selassie's coronation as emperor of Ethiopia—which he described as "an elaborate propaganda effort" to disguise the emperor's true brutality.
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