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Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh Edit Profile


Evelyn Waugh was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer. His best-known works include his early satires Decline and Fall (1928) and A Handful of Dust (1934), his novel Brideshead Revisited (1945) and his trilogy of Second World War novels collectively known as Sword of Honour (1952–61). Waugh is widely recognised as one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century.


Waugh, Evelyn Arthur St. John was born in 1903 in England. Son of Arthur and Catherine (Raban) Waugh.


Evelyn received his first lessons at home from his mother, Heath Mount preparatory school. The son of a publisher, Waugh was educated at Lancing and Hertford College, Oxford, and worked briefly as a schoolmaster before becoming a full-time writer.

As a young man, he acquired many fashionable and aristocratic friends, and developed a taste for country house society that never left him. In the 1930s he travelled extensively, often as a special

newspaper correspondent; he was reporting from Abyssinia at the time of the 1935 Italian invasion. He served in the British armed forces throughout the Second World War, first in the Royal Marines and later in the Royal Horse Guards.

All these experiences, and the wide range of people he encountered, were used in Waugh's fiction, generally to humorous effect; even his own mental breakdown in the early 1950s, brought about by misuse of drugs, was fictionalised.


After attending Sherborne School and New College, Oxford, Arthur Waugh began a career in publishing and as a literary critic. In 1902 he became managing director of Chapman and Hall, publishers of the works of Charles Dickens.

On 29 September 1930 Waugh was received into the Roman Catholic Church. This shocked his family and surprised some of his friends, but the step had been contemplated for some time.

As he approached his sixties, Waugh was in poor health, prematurely aged, "fat, deaf, short of breath" according to Patey. Biographer Martin Stannard likened his appearance around this time to that of "an exhausted rogue jollied up by drink".

On Easter Day, 10 April 1966, after attending a Latin Mass in a neighbouring village with members of his family, Waugh died suddenly of heart failure at his Combe Florey home. He was buried, by special arrangement, in a consecrated plot outside the Anglican churchyard in Combe Florey. A Requiem Mass, in Latin, was celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on 21 April 1966.


  • Other Work

    • Decline and Fall (1928) Vile Bodies (1930) Black Mischief (1932) A Handful of Dust (1934) Scoop (1938) Put Out More Flags (1942) Brideshead Revisited (1945) Scott-King's Modern Europe (1947) The Loved One (1948) Helena (1950) Love Among the Ruins. A Romance of the Near Future (1953) Sword of Honour Men at Arms (1952) Officers and Gentlemen (1955) Unconditional Surrender (1961) The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) Short stories: Mr Loveday's Little Outing: And Other Sad Stories (1936) Work Suspended: And Other Stories (1943) Selected Works (1977) Charles Ryder's Schooldays: And Other Stories (1982) The Complete Short Stories (1997) The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (1998) Travel writing: Labels (1930) Remote People (1931) Ninety-Two Days (1934) Waugh In Abyssinia (1936) Robbery Under Law (1939) When the Going Was Good (1946) A Tourist In Africa (1960) Biographies: Rossetti: His Life and Works (1928) Saint Edmund Campion: Priest and Martyr (1935) The Life of the Right Reverend Ronald Knox (1959) Other books: The Temple at Thatch (unpublished) A Little Learning (1964)

    • Vile Bodies
    • Decline and Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) eBook: Evelyn Waugh: Books


He had married Catherine Raban (1870–1954) in 1893; their first son Alexander Raban Waugh (always known as Alec) was born on 8 July 1898. Alec Waugh later became a novelist of note. At the time of his birth the family were living in North London, at Hillfield Road, West Hampstead where, on 28 October 1903, the couple's second son was born, "in great haste before Dr Andrews could arrive", Catherine recorded. On 7 January 1904 the boy was christened Arthur Evelyn St John Waugh, but was known in the family and in the wider world as Evelyn. Married Laura Herbert, 1937.