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Evelyn’s smart set

Features | By Selina Hastings

Evelyn Waugh, centre, with Alastair Graham and Elizabeth Harman (the future Lady Longford)

Selina Hastings remembers the friends who inspired Waugh’s most successful book

It was in January 1944 that Evelyn Waugh managed to procure three months’ unpaid leave from the army, in order to begin work on what is regarded by many, myself included, as his finest novel, Brideshead Revisited. At that particular period, Waugh had little to do. Nobody seemed to want him. The war was going on elsewhere, and the jobs he had hoped for in his brigade had been allotted to others, his commanding officer explaining that he was so unpopular as to be almost unemployable. Thus it was that he found himself staying at a small hotel in a Devonshire village, writing about a world far distant from the grim austerity of wartime Britain. The book took him only five months to complete. For 6th June 1944, his diary entry reads: ‘This morning at breakfast the waiter told me the Second Front had opened… My only fear is lest...

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