Tag Archives: Evelyn Waugh

Bright Young Things Schoolboy Party

Found- an American press photograph from 1932. On the back is typed “Schoolboy Party Society Stunt. The latest fad of society in London is the schoolboy party, one of which took place at the Punch Club. The invitations were entrance forms to ‘St Barnacle’s School’ and many prominent society members attended dressed in appropriate costumes. Above are some of the guests in ‘uniform’. In centre is Lady Ashley (without hat) and third from left is Elsie Randolph.. Acme Press 7/25/32.” 
IMG_20160312_0001
 This is the world of Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 novel Vile Bodies. The  hero of the novel, Adam, becomes a society columnist – ‘Oh Nina, what a lot of parties’ he complains to his girlfriend – and the narrator adds:

“…Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming-baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris – all that succession and repetition of massed humanity … Those vile bodies…” 

photocopy

Angus Wilson and Evelyn Waugh – the tweed connection

Found - this enigmatic pair of pictures in a 1980s Japanese book on English literature. The book was in a box of foreign language books from the estate  of the novelist Angus Wilson. The inscription in Japanese is probably to him from an academic that he had met on one of his lecture tours to Japan in the 1960s. He had befriended Yukio Mishima while there and the great samurai stayed with him at his Suffolk cottage on a trip to England.

The notable item in the photo is that Evelyn Waugh and Angus Wilson appear to be wearing the same brand of tweed...it is possible that at the time in Japan it was assumed that all English novelists wore nothing but tweed..The connection between the two men,however, is slightly  deeper. Waugh was a great admirer of Wilson, especially his novel The Old Men at the Zoo which he vigorously defended in a long letter from his country pile Combe Florey to The Spectator in 1961, after it was attacked by their critic John Mortimer. Which novelist wore the tweed first is (so far) unknown.