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Evelyn Waugh: the missing link with the Other Great 20th Century writer Time also missed

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 25 February 2016

Evelyn Waugh is trending on twitter. I guess thousands of uneducated young folks are saying "who is she?" "Is she dead?" I say this only partly in jest, knowing full well that Mr Evelyn Waugh was male and died about fifty years ago. But it seems that the old reactionary is trending because Time Magazine has just named him as one of Britain's top 100 female writers. I rather despair.

I wonder how Time coped with George Eliot or indeed Acton Bell. Actually I do not wonder I just reflect on how stupid are most young people and most Americans. In some sort of Venn diagram of stupidity the editorial team at Time will be in that dark coloured convex sharpe in the middle.

The missing link you ask? And who is that other great twentieth century author? Modesty prevents me. Well, in the pompous spirit of Waugh, it does not, for you see both Evelyn and myself applied to Christ Church, the House, the college at Oxford attended by the social elite. I am not sure about where Waugh's family went but my father's family were all House men.

But as it happens The House seems to have a knack on missing out on great literary talents or at least it had a bad streak from 1920 until the early eighties, rejecting both Waugh and myself with both of us ending up at the rather unfashionable and socially modest Hertford. Mr Waugh struggled to get a Douglas ( Hurd - Third) while I somehow managed a Desmond (Tutu) although am perfectly happy to accept that I was jolly lucky not to get the Douglas which I richly deserved.

Those who have read Waugh's Brideshead Revisited will note that middle class Mr Ryder attends Hertford whilst his lover Lord Sebastian Flyte attends Christ Church. Whilst Waugh clearly regretted havng to slum it at Hertford, I am rather glad that I dodged The House.

For what it is worth, my favourite Waugh novel will not surprise you, given my vocation. Naturally, it is Scoop.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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