Wednesday, April 10, 2013

British novelist Evelyn Waugh died - 1966

British novelist Evelyn Waugh died on April 10, 1966 in Combe Florey, Somerset, England. 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 recognized as one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century.

The son of a publisher, Waugh was educated at 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 traveled 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 World War II, first in the Royal Marines and later in the Royal Horse Guard. 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 fictionalized.

Waugh had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1930, after the failure of his first marriage. His traditionalist stance led him to oppose strongly all attempts to reform the Church. This along with a growing dislike for the welfare culture of the postwar world and a decline in his health saddened his final years, although he continued to write. To the public at large he generally displayed a mask of indifference, but he was capable of great kindness to those he considered his friends, many of whom remained devoted to him throughout his life. On Easter Day, 10 April 1966, after attending a Latin Mass in a neighboring village with members of his family, Waugh died of heart failure at his Combe Florey home, aged 62. He was buried, by special arrangement, in a consecrated plot outside the Anglican churchyard in Combe Florey. After his death, he acquired a new following through film and television versions of his work.

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

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