Evelyn Waugh

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Evelyn Waugh (28 October 1903 – 10 April 1966) was an English novelist and essayist. He first achieved fame with satirical novels such as Decline and Fall (1928) and A Handful of Dust (1934), before widening his appeal with the elegiac Brideshead Revisited (1945) and the more pessimistic Sword of Honour (1952, 1955, 1961) trilogy. William F. Buckley described him as "the greatest English novelist of the century."

Early life

Evelyn Waugh was the son of Arthur Waugh, a publisher, and the brother of Alec Waugh, a popular novelist. Raised in Hampstead, he attended Sherborne public school and Hertford College, Oxford. While at college, he drank heavily and studied rarely. His experience at Oxford later inspired the early sections of Brideshead Revisited

Major Works

Waugh first achieved fame with Decline and Fall, an uproarious satire set among London's snobbish elite, before confirming his status with the similarly witty Vile Bodies and Scoop. The novels represented upper- and middle-class England as solipsistic, trivial and heartless, but a mournful quality was detectable in the fine prose. At the end of the Second World War, in Brideshead Revisited, Waugh confirmed his sincere conversion to Catholicism and his growing political conservatism with a tale set among a doomed aristocratic family. Made into an iconic ITV television series in 1981, the book sought, in his own words, to demonstrate the application of "divine grace". Waugh later came to see Brideshead as somewhat over-florid in style and the later Sword of Honour trilogy, a story of the war, was a considerably drier and less lyrical piece of work.

Later Years

In the later years of his life, Waugh became ever more conservative. He famously complained that, despite his having repeatedly voted for the Conservative Party, "they have never put the clock back a single second". Evelyn Waugh died at his home in Combe Florey, Somerset in 1966.