WAUGH (EVELYN) Series of forty-two autograph letters and cards signed ("Evelyn Waugh", "Evelyn", "E.W." and "E"), to his fellow novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Tony") and wife Lady Violet; London, Piers Court, Combe Florey and elsewhere, 1927-1964

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Lot 203
WAUGH (EVELYN)
Series of forty-two autograph letters and cards signed ("Evelyn Waugh", "Evelyn", "E.W." and "E"), to his fellow novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Tony") and wife Lady Violet; London, Piers Court, Combe Florey and elsewhere, 1927-1964,ʻI HOPE THE NOVEL WILL BE FINISHED IN A WEEK. I WILL SEND IT TO YOU AS SOON AS IT IS TYPED & THEN WANT TO REVISE IT VERY THOROUGHLY' – THE LETTERS OF EVELYN WAUGH TO ANTHONY POWELL.

Sold for £ 27,500 (US$ 33,741) inc. premium
WAUGH (EVELYN)
Series of forty-two autograph letters and cards signed ("Evelyn Waugh", "Evelyn", "E.W." and "E"), to his fellow novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Tony") and wife Lady Violet; the earliest letter dating from October 1927 when Powell was employed at Duckworth's and was, with the managing director Thomas Dalston, responsible for bringing out Waugh's first commercially-published book, Rossetti ("...I have done another chapter & am getting near the end. Has that typist sent the second instalment./ The pleasures of the countryside go on merrily, evictions, tremendous litigations about farmers shooting peoples dogs, and scandal about the wicked Lord Warwick... We went to Kelmscott the other day. I thought Miss Morris a most detestable woman. I shall put in some poisonous things about her mother.../ Here are the designs I should like you & Balston to use. I think they ought to be reproduced opposite the photographs of the pictures, don't you..."), Duckworth's having been also offered Waugh's first novel, Decline and Fall ("...I hope the novel will be finished in a week. I will send it to you as soon as it is typed & then want to revise it very thoroughly and enlarge it a bit. I think it at present shows signs of being too short. How do novelists make their books so long. I'm sure one could write any novel in the world on two postcards. Do you like Untoward Incidents as a title..."); many of the later letters expressing admiration for Powell's own novels, such as Agents and Patients ("...which I read at once & loved..."), the first of the Dance sequence ("...I have just read A Question of Upbringing with huge delight & admiration. As you know I have always been a fan of yours..."), the third book of the sequence ("...I have now read Acceptance World slowly and with great relish. I think it even better done than its predecessor and congratulate you with all my heart. I prefer Mrs Erdleigh to Mr Deacon as a piece of apparatus and the climax of Le Bas's seizure in the cascade of sugar. The whole old boy dinner is superb. The plots seems to me altogether denser and I prefer the economy in comment. In fact it is an admirable book. I am glad I haven't to review it. I don't quite know how I would define my admiration. I feel each volume of the series is like a great sustaining slice of Melton Mowbray pie. I can go on eating it with the recurring seasons until I drop..."), the fourth ("...It was awfully good of you to send me Lady Molly. I had been looking forward to it like seven days leave and read it without interruption. It is delightful – every bit up to the predecessors. What a fine work it is going to be when it is complete and the whole scheme revealed. In the opening pages I felt the void of Widmerpool really aching – I could not have borne another page's delay of his story. Did you intend him to dominate the series when you introduced him in the first volume? Erridge is a magnificent creation and the evening at his house masterly. Lady Molly herself remained a bit vague to me. It was genius to put the tale of Widmerpool's discomfiture into the general's mouth. It was no surprise to me, nor was Erridge's elopement. Thank you very much for a real rare treat..."), the fifth ("...Thanks awfully for sending me a copy of Casanova. I have put it proudly among its companion volumes. I had in fact read it in proof and have reviewed it for the Spectator where I gave the opinion that your admirers will regard it as an essential link in a fine series. The scene in the third part of Stringham's drunken appearance is as good as anything in any of the books. I can't say I liked the new musical characters. I mean I didn't like them personally, not that they were not excellently portrayed. I hope you wont think my review captious. In a work as large as yours no reader can enjoy all parts equally. Lady Molly remains my favourite..."), sixth ("...I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy, with your kind inscription, of The Kindly Ones. I read it, as I told you, in proof and have written a review for the Spectator which I hope you won't find cantankerous. It is with At Lady Molly's my favourite of a much loved series. Your expression ʻterminates' strikes a chill but I do not believe it really means to end these delights – surely merely one of those changes of mood or method of which only the author is conscious?... I look forward to the war books more than to any...") and seventh, The Valley of Bones ("...I have read it with keen admiration – joy at the farcical passages, appreciative the way in which you have changed pace and make it the first of a new series rather than simply a continuation of the former. I long for its successors..."); other books covered by these letters include Waugh's life of Ronald Knox ("...Eton & Balliol make things easier for Ronnie with you. He was able to disguise his shyness with people but he was shy...") and Powell's John Aubrey and His Friends ("...The only book of yours I somehow missed & which I shall now fall upon with avidity..."); other topics include the pretensions of Malcom Muggeridge, gossip about other friends, visits to the Chantry, and Powell's present for Waugh's first marriage ("...What particularly amusing plates. We are naturally both delighted with them... Evelyn gets better every day, but is still rather weak & depressed & has not been out yet... ʻDecline & Fall' is printing its third thousand..."); the series comprising 21 autograph letters and 21 autograph post- or letter-cards (one incorporating a Christmas card); four addressed to Lady Violet; together with Waugh's self-designed printed Christmas card for 1927 (with autograph envelope), the well-known telegram from Waugh to Powell, summoning John Heygate back from Germany during the break-up of Waugh's first marriage (see below), and a letter by Auberon Waugh to Lady Violet thanking them for their condolences on his father's death, nearly 50 pages, some on headed paper (including ʻFarm Account with Mrs. E. Waugh/ Combe Florey House'), 4to and 8vo, London, Piers Court, Combe Florey and elsewhere, 1927-1964

Footnotes

  • ʻI HOPE THE NOVEL WILL BE FINISHED IN A WEEK. I WILL SEND IT TO YOU AS SOON AS IT IS TYPED & THEN WANT TO REVISE IT VERY THOROUGHLY' – THE LETTERS OF EVELYN WAUGH TO ANTHONY POWELL. This remarkable series runs from the period of Waugh's first commercially-published book, Rossetti (published by Powell at Duckworth's) and his debut novel, Decline and Fall, up until the final novels of his Sword of Honour trilogy; while concurrently providing us with a record of Waugh's response to Powell's evolving masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time.

    The series is of particular note for the otherwise comparatively scant records of Waugh's early writing career, especially the letters which discuss not only Rossetti but Decline and Fall, which had originally been offered to Duckworth's but in the event was to be published by Chapman & Hall. Not that ʻDecline and Fall' was the book's original title: "Would Tom [Dalston, Managing Director of Duckworth's] allow a few illustrations – line drawings – to my novel? I have chosen ʻUntoward Incidents' for a title. The phrase, you remember, was used by the D. of Wellington in commenting on the destruction of the Turkish fleet in time of peace at Navarino. It seems to capture the right tone of mildly censorious detachment".

    Even though Duckworth's lost out to Chapman & Hall when it came to publishing Waugh's fiction, they remained his publishers for the early books of travel. In 1936, Waugh writes to Powell: "I have been looking through the three travel books you published for me, ʻLabels', ʻRemote People' & ʻNinety Two days' and find they are full of long passages that make me sweat. I was thinking vaguely of an ʻomnibus' & at once see that this was out of the question. But what I should like to do would be to preserve the bits that still seem amusing & let the rest go out of print. Do you like the idea of publishing an anthology taken from the three".

    As friend of both John Heygate and Evelyn Gardner, Powell was caught up in the marital disaster that befell Waugh midway through writing Vile Bodies (see ʻShe-Evelyn's' letters to Powell in the present sale; and To Keep the Ball Rolling, p.173). Indeed, he was touring Germany with Heygate when he received the famous telegram from Waugh demanding Heygate's immediate return. The original, which is included in the lot, is on a Deutsche Reichspost telegram form and date-stamped 26 July 1929. Addressed to "anthony powell bei british consulate munich", it runs: "please tell john return immediately imperative = evelyn +".

    Powell was later to remark that, although there was no falling out with Waugh, they did not see much of each other for some years; and were not in regular contact until Waugh moved to Gloucestershire, about fifty miles from Powell at the Chantry. Some of the notes from this later period are routine, such as when he muddles up an appointment in the early ʻfifties. But these being what one could describe as the Pinfold years, even such a routine note can be revealing: "Oh dear. I am losing all powers of communication... Please forgive my inarticulateness. Nowadays I always feel like a deep sea diver trying to shout at other divers at the bottom of the sea – and no gold bars to salvage – only bones". Of the book itself, Waugh remarks: "I am delighted to hear that Pinfold made you laugh. It is so much a slice of autobiography that I find it impossible to judge".

    While Waugh's later letters are largely taken up with his reactions to Powell's novels, they do touch on his own work, including Officers and Gentlemen ("...ʻCrouchback' (junior: not so his admirable father) is a prig. But he is a virtuous, brave prig. If he had funked, the defection of ʻIvor Claire' could not have had the necessary impact on him...") and his final work, the revised Sword of Honour trilogy: "I am disconcerted to find that I have given the impression of a ʻhappy ending'. This was far from my intention. The mistake was allowing Guy legitimate offspring. They shall be deleted in any subsequent edition. I thought it more ironical that there should be real heirs of the Blessed Gervaise Crouchback dispossessed by Trimmer but I plainly failed to make that clear. So no nippers for Guy & Domenica in Penguin" (an alteration he did not live to make).

    Eleven of these letters and cards are published by Mark Amory in The Letters of Evelyn Waugh (1980); others have been quoted in biographical and critical studies.
Contacts
WAUGH (EVELYN) Series of forty-two autograph letters and cards signed ("Evelyn Waugh", "Evelyn", "E.W." and "E"), to his fellow novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Tony") and wife Lady Violet; London, Piers Court, Combe Florey and elsewhere, 1927-1964
WAUGH (EVELYN) Series of forty-two autograph letters and cards signed ("Evelyn Waugh", "Evelyn", "E.W." and "E"), to his fellow novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Tony") and wife Lady Violet; London, Piers Court, Combe Florey and elsewhere, 1927-1964
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