Evelyn Waugh: The Controversial Author’s Untold Story


Evelyn Waugh: The Controversial Author’s Untold Story

Evelyn Waugh is a name that is often associated with literary brilliance and controversy. The acclaimed British novelist, known for his sharp wit and satirical writing, garnered much attention throughout his career for his controversial views and outrageous behavior. But behind the facade of this larger-than-life figure lies a complex and untold story that sheds light on the man behind the controversy.

Born in London in 1903, Evelyn Waugh was the second of three sons. His father, Arthur Waugh, was a successful author and publisher, and his mother, Catherine, came from a prominent literary family. Growing up in this environment, Waugh developed a love for literature from a young age, and at the age of 14, he won a scholarship to attend Hertford College, Oxford.

It was during his time at Oxford that Waugh began to develop his distinctive writing style, which was heavily influenced by his experiences and observations of the world around him. After graduating with a degree in history, he embarked on a career in journalism, but it was not long before he turned his attention to writing novels.

Waugh rose to fame with his debut novel, “Decline and Fall” in 1928, which showcased his cutting satire and dark humor. The book was an instant success, and Waugh became a prominent figure within the literary world. He went on to write several more novels, including “Vile Bodies” and “A Handful of Dust,” which cemented his reputation as one of the leading writers of his time.

However, it was also during this period that Waugh’s controversial views and behavior began to surface. He was known for his outspoken criticism of modern society, his staunch Catholicism, and his disdain for the “lower classes.” His controversial actions included mocking an editor to his face, insulting waiters, and publicly feuding with fellow writers.

Despite his controversial reputation, Waugh’s personal life was fraught with ups and downs. He married his first wife, Evelyn Gardiner, in 1928, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1930. He then married his second wife, Laura Herbert, in 1937, with whom he had six children. However, their marriage was far from a happy one, and Waugh often turned to alcohol to cope with the strains of his personal life.

But behind the caustic facade and controversial views, Waugh was a deeply sensitive and vulnerable man. He struggled with depression throughout his life, and his emotional turmoil was often reflected in his writing. In his later years, he became increasingly reclusive, and his writing took on a more somber tone. His last three novels, “Brideshead Revisited,” “The Loved One,” and “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold,” delve into themes of love, loss, and mental illness.

Sadly, Waugh’s writing career was cut short due to his declining health. He suffered multiple heart attacks and underwent unsuccessful surgery, leading to his death in 1966 at the age of 62. Despite his controversial reputation, Waugh was mourned by many in the literary world, and his legacy continues to live on through his prolific body of work.

In conclusion, the untold story of Evelyn Waugh sheds light on the complexity of this controversial author. While he will always be remembered for his sharp wit and satirical writing, it is important to recognize the vulnerable and sensitive man behind the public persona. Through his work, Waugh challenged societal norms and offered a glimpse into the complexities of the human condition, leaving a lasting impact on the literary world.