Evelyn Waugh was widely regarded as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his day. Drawing on previously unpublished BBC broadcasts, this CD presents Waugh in some of his most significant radio appearances. The recordings range from the earliest surviving example of Waugh's voice, dating from 1938, to a speech given at the Royal Society of Literature in 1963, when he was just three years from death.
We hear the writer as a 35 year-old, 10 years into his first flush of literary success; as a middle-aged abhorrer of post-war society; and as a venerated old master. All the recordings are being made commercially available for the first time.
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Born in Hampstead and educated at Oxford University, Evelyn Waugh came from a literary family. His elder brother, Alec was a novelist, and his father, Arthur Waugh, was the influential head of a large publishing house. Even in his school days, Waugh showed sings of the profound belief in Catholicism and brilliant wit that were to mark his later years. Waugh began publishing his novels in the late 1920's. He joined the Royal Marines at the beginning of World War II and was one of the first to volunteer for commando service. In 1944 he survived a plane crash in Yugoslavia and, while hiding in a cave, corrected the proofs of one of his novels. Waugh's early novels, Decline and Fall (1927), Vile Bodies (1930), and A Handful of Dust (1934), established him as one of the funniest and most brilliant satirists the British had seen in years. He was particularly skillful at poking fun at the scramble for prominence among the upper classes and the struggle between the generations. He lived for a while in Hollywood, about which he wrote The Loved One (1948), a scathing attack on the United States's overly sentimental funeral practices. His greatest works, however, are Brideshead Revisited (1945), which has been made into a highly popular television miniseries, and the trilogy Sword of Honor (1965), composed of Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955), and The End of the Battle (1961).