BLACK MISCHIEF REVISITED
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ANGELA
The Waugh literature tells us that Evelyn had an affair with Audrey Lucas in 1930. What it doesn't tell us about is Audrey's extraordinary and mysterious back-story, a backstory that is one of the two main things that, I believe, make the relationship a lot more significant than has previously been suggested.
Evelyn and Audrey were like brother and sister. By which I mean they had a very similar upbringing. Born in 1898 (five years before Evelyn), Audrey was the daughter of Elizabeth and E.V. Lucas, the latter being a man of letters. E.V. (as he was known) was a close friend of Arthur Waugh's and wrote many books, all of which are now forgotten. Like Arthur's.
But not only were Evelyn and Audrey brought up in literary salons which overlapped, their fathers both had very strong ties with literary powerhouses. As is well know, Arthur Waugh was a Dickens fanatic, publishing the novels and reading them aloud to his sons. For his part, E.V. Lucas was a close friend of J.M. Barrie, and as a result Audrey went to one of the first performances of Peter Pan with the Llewelyn Davies boys who had inspired Barrie to write the play.
After Peter Pan's protracted success, Barrie was just about the most celebrated author in the world. One of his passions was cricket and a team called the Allahakbarries consisted of fellow writers and their associates. In the photo below, taken in 1913 when Audrey was 15, she is sitting between the legs of Barrie, the only female in a group that includes her father (two to the right of Barrie) and A.A. MIlne (two to the left).
Arthur Conan Doyle often played for the Allahakbarries as well. The creators of Peter Pan, Sherlock Homes and Winnie the Pooh all playing in the same team, watched and admired by Audrey? I expect it led the teenage girl to have pretty high demands of the men in her life. Perhaps this is a reason she later fell in love with Evelyn Waugh.
There are no photos of Audrey Lucas currently in the Waugh literature. (Anthony Powell wrote to Selina Hasting in 1991 to tell her about the above photo appearing in Ann Thwaite's biography of E.V. Lucas, but obviously Selina didn't think it merited inclusion in her biography of EW, and one can understand why.) However, there is now an excellent J.M. Barrie website that contains a couple of fascinating photographs of Audrey as a young adult. In 1920, Audrey and her mother joined MIchael Llewelyn Davies and JM Barrie on a Scottish island. That's her in the white hat and shoes in the photo below, while Barrie holds onto the party's rowing boat:
The tall high-shouldered boy, Michael, was to die in a swimming accident at Oxford a year later, a tragedy that JM Barrie never really recovered from. Indeed, it's doubtful if Barrie ever recovered from his own brother's accidental death at the age of 13. A death that was echoed in his mind by the death in World War One of George Llewelyn Davies, a principle inspirer of Peter Pan. So the 1920 holiday on the Scottish island may not have been as carefree as the photo below suggests. Audrey under her big white hat again; Barrie under his, with nose in book.
2) AUDREY AND EVELYN TOGETHER, 1924/25
So when did Audrey enter Evelyn's life? They may have bumped into each other as children, given their fathers' mutual friendship which nearly led to them writing a book together. But the first mention in Waugh's diary is in December 1924, when Evelyn was 21 and just a few months down from Oxford. By this time Audrey had begun an acting career and was playing the part of Tootles, one of the Lost Boys, in a London production of Peter Pan.
Audrey and two other women were invited to Underhill on Christmas Day, presumably by Arthur Waugh or perhaps Alec. Evelyn's comment was that the evening did not promise to be a jovial one. But, as he admitted in his subsequent diary entry, the evening turned out very well. Two days later, Evelyn was invited to dinner at Audrey's flat to meet a couple that Audrey knew. Then, on January 4, Evelyn had lunch with Audrey, her mother and one other. Clearly, they were spending a lot of time together.
It was an unsettled period for Evelyn. He was applying for jobs as a schoolmaster and trying to come to terms with the prospect of doing such a job. On January 6 there was a party that Waugh describes in some detail. So let's set the scene for that.
On January 5, Waugh's ex-lover Alastair Graham had returned from his three-month journey to Africa. Also that day, Evelyn had met Mr Banks of Arnold House, North Wales, who had offered him £160 to teach at his school for a year. Evelyn was given to understand that the school was so far from any place of entertainment that it would not be possible to spend any money during term...
Maybe the party on January 6 became especially wild as a result of this African-Welsh double whammy - a reunion, but with another parting scheduled. Alastair, Evelyn and John Sutro, a chum from Oxford, had dinner together, I think at Underhill. After that, they went into town and ate mushrooms and drank burgundy at the Café Royal. At 10.45pm they went on to Oddino's where Audrey Lucas was waiting for them under the suspicious eye of a waiter who would not serve 'unaccompanied ladies'. That seems like an opportunity to place an early watercolour by Evelyn Waugh:
Watercolour by Evelyn Waugh
Poor Audrey, having to wait unserved at an empty table while her pals were drinking in the vicinity.
The Plunket Greenes then turned up, including Olivia and Richard, plus 'hundreds more'. When Oddino's closed, the party went to a dance at the 50-50, which was full of 'everyone one had ever heard of'. Evelyn didn't like it because the place was dry. So he and his old Oxford chum turned actor, Tony Lovell, went to the club at 43 Gerrard Street to drink whisky and 'ignore the solicitations of the harlots'. Back at the 50-50, it was proposed that the party move on to 'Audrey's flat', so Richard Plunket Greene and Evelyn went off in search of liquor. The proprietress at 43 Gerrard Street would not sell them anything, but an old man on Frith Street was only too pleased to sell them a bottle of gin at double the normal price. This was handed over to Audrey at the 50-50, then Evelyn and Richard went off to Park Crescent to look for Black Torry (a rich hostess of Indian origins) who had disappeared.
The above map might help track Evelyn's movements that night. Both the Café Royal and Oddino's are/were on Regent Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. I'm not sure where the 50-50 club was situated, somewhere in Soho, close to Gerrad Street and Frith Street, both of which I've marked north of Leicester Square.
Evelyn and Richard tried many bells on Park Crescent (red tack top left of map) but could not find Black Torry, so they went to Audrey's flat (red tack top right of map, if her address then was the same as in 1927) where she had already arrived with two bottles of champagne. The party lasted until about 5am. What happened at the party? Audrey made declarations of love to Evelyn. Richard did the same to Elizabeth. And Evelyn to Olivia.
So that was the situation in January, 1925, as Evelyn set off on his teaching career. He was in love with Olivia. And Audrey was in love with him. Two days before going to North Wales, Waugh realised he'd spent his travelling money on another binge. So he went with Audrey to a pawnbroker where they cashed his ring and snuff box and Audrey's watch. The next night, Olivia's parting gift was to tell him that he was a great artist and he must not be a schoolmaster. Evelyn went to bed, he wrote, more desolate than he'd felt since the embarkation of Alastair.
A great artist (rather than writer)? Although Waugh had published the odd piece of writing at Oxford and had come up with the story line for The Scarlet Woman, he had been more productive as a visual artist. This is typical of his work (and life) in the previous year:
As for Audrey, her run as Tootles in Peter Pan at the Adelphi Theatre finished on the 25th of January after a matinee performance every day for a month. It's possible that she saw her feelings for Evelyn reflected in the play she was appearing in. Tootles so looks up to Peter! How about this?
TOOTLES: "Has Peter come back yet, Slightly?"
SLIGHTLY (with a solemnity that he thinks suits the occasion): "No, Tootles, no."
TOOTLES: "What should we do?"
SECOND TWIN: "What would Peter do?"
SLIGHTLY: "Peter would look at them through his legs; let us do what Peter would do."
There's a scene where Wendy, the girl who has flown to Neverland following Peter Pan where she is to play the role of mother to Peter and the Lost Boys, is shot by Tootles, who believed he had been told to do this. He soon realises his mistake and has to face up to telling Peter what he's done... I suppose I'm including this scene as Audrey was bound to have felt jealousy towards Olivia.
TOOTLES (making a break in the paling): "Peter, I will show her to you."
THE OTHERS (closing the gap): "No, no."
TOOTLES (majestically): "Stand back all, and let Peter see."
(The paling dissolves, and PETER sees WENDY prone on the ground.)
PETER: "Wendy, with an arrow in her heart!" (He plucks it out.) "Wendy is dead." (He is not so much pained as puzzled.)
CURLY: "I thought it was only flowers that die."
PETER: "Perhaps she is frightened at being dead?" (None of them can say as to that.) "Whose arrow?" (Not one of them looks at TOOTLES.)
TOOTLES: "Mine, Peter."
PETER (raising it as a dagger): "Oh dastard hand!"
TOOTLES (kneeling and baring his breast): "Strike, Peter; strike true."
Towards the end of the play, with Wendy fully recovered, she has some bad news for the Lost Boys:
WENDY: "Peter isn't coming!"
(All the faces go blank.)
JOHN (even JOHN): "Peter not coming!"
TOOTLES (overthrown): "Why, Peter?"
PETER (his pipes more riotous than ever): "I just want always to be a little boy and to have fun."
By the end of March, Evelyn was back in London after a term teaching 'the mad boys', very much feeling that he had been let off the leash. To mix metaphors, he just wanted always to be a little boy himself. And to have fun.
Accordingly, Evelyn got a tailor to make him 'voluminous pantaloons' which he went up to town wearing. After an exhibition, he was supposed to meet Audrey at Hatchett's, but they missed each other. Evelyn enjoyed a large and bibulous lunch by himself then went to the Savile Club in search of chums. He found brother Alec, and another, and they drank together before buying some bottles of champagne to take to tea at Olivia's. Very drunk by this stage, Evelyn went off to dinner with Tony Bushell. They quarrelled with the proprietor at Previtali's and went off to drink at the 1917 club, followed by the 50-50, from where they returned to Olivia's where Audrey had by this time arrived. The dancing and drinking went on until about 3am after which Evelyn found himself in Hammersmith rather than Hampstead, having walked for miles in the wrong direction from the Plunkett Greene house on Hanover Terrace, Regent's Park.
Let me present Evelyn's intended route home (north from Regent's Park) together with the route actually taken (south through Hyde Park).
The first line of Peter Pan again? Something like this: 'All children, except one, go home.'
Actually, to be fair, he was probably trying to work out how he'd got from Oxford, centre of English civilisation, to the Welsh wilderness of Llanddulas. Or rather, how to retrace his footsteps from Arnold House to Hertford College.
That was on Friday April 3. By Monday, Olivia was pining for a party of her own so Evelyn set one up. This was despite the fact that he'd received a letter from Audrey that morning pleading for him not to get drunk again. In the event, on hearing that the drink ordered from Oxford for Olivia's party had got stuck at the Addison Road parcels' office, he and Arthur Ponsonby went off in the Ponsonby family car to collect it. They took the opportunity to pub-crawl their way to the parcels' office in west London, and to pub-crawl the way back. At about 10pm the pair were stopped by two 'stalwart policemen' in Oxford Street. Evelyn's tongue-in-cheek comment in his diary is: 'Every effort of mine to prove my sobriety was unavailing'. The pair were arrested, and by the time Evelyn was let out of his tiny cell four hours later, he found that things were just breaking up at Hanover Terrace. Ah, the missed party!
Days later, the Plunket Greenes plus Evelyn and a few others went on holiday to Lundy Island off the coast of Devon, where to Evelyn's frustration, Olivia continued to refuse his advances. On Saturday, April 18, Waugh received disconcerting news in the mail. Audrey Lucas was 'engaged immediately to marry Harold Scott'. The arrangement (between those playing Tootles and Slightly in Peter Pan) seemed to Evelyn 'most improper' and he felt he was largely responsible. He should have acknowledged the letter from Audrey asking him to stop drinking. He even reckoned that Audrey was marrying 'this vulgar man' in order to mock Evelyn. In other words, if Evelyn felt he could drink himself to death, then why shouldn't Audrey ruin her life in a way of her own choosing.
Evelyn does not pursue these thoughts any further in his diary. Instead, he turns to the thing that is truly tormenting him. The fact that he cannot cure himself of being in love with Olivia.
3) AUDREY AND EVELYN APART, 1925-1929
So what happened between Harold Scott and Audrey? I read somewhere that the reason for the sudden engagement was that Audrey had become pregnant by Harold. But I'm not sure what happened to any baby. On July 1, 1927, Audrey put a notice in the London Gazette saying that she, a spinster, was changing her name by deed poll from Audrey Lucas to Audrey Lucas Scott. A prelude to marriage?
By this time, Audrey, like Evelyn, had turned to writing. In the year that Waugh wrote Rossetti and began Decline and Fall, Audrey wrote a play called The Peaceful Thief. In November, 1927, there were two performances of this at the Arts Theatre Club on Great Newport Street, London, and Harold Scott was in the cast.
1927, of course, was the year that Evelyn met She-Evelyn. In 1928 they were married and in 1929 divorced. Was Audrey's relationship with Harold Scott as up and down as that of the Evelyns? I don't know. What I do know is that Audrey carried on writing plays and in 1929 there were 26 performances at the Strand Theatre of Why Drag in Marriage? by Audrey Scott, the play being produced by Harold Scott. So by 1929 the pair would seem to have been married, both pursuing careers in the theatre. Below is a picture of the production's leading lady, Gillian Lind, playing the part of Rose Lawton:
The reviewer in Theatre World says of Why Drag in Marriage?, 'Audrey Scott has written an extremely able and amusing play, without breaking any particular new ground in the process.'
I've been able to read reviews thanks to the Cadbury Research LIbrary at the University of Birmingham which has a file on the play. The plot can be summarised as follows: Rose, a well brought up woman from Kensington is introduced to a bohemian Bloomsbury set. She is seduced by a charming man, Gerald France, and is on the point of giving herself to him (without a marriage) when she realises he already has a mistress. Six months later, she has adopted the manners and mores of the smart set while he, shaken by the strength of his feelings for her, has spent the time in meditation in Paris. Gerald is shocked by the change in Rose's personality, but instead of taking advantage of her modern outlook, offers her a traditional marriage proposal... Modern and traditional values jostle for dominance. I don't know how exactly that reflects Audrey's experiences with Harold Scott in particular, but I dare say it does.
I should emphasise how widely the play was reviewed. If Evelyn Waugh was the bright young author of 1928, thanks to Decline and Fall. Audrey was up there in 1929. Below is one page of a 2-page review in Piccadilly, one of 17 reviews I've seen:
In The News of the World, the reviewer comments 'Audrey Scott, the author of Why Drag in Marriage?, the new comedy at the Strand, has a good many things to say and says them with a good deal of point. The piece is "daring" enough, in that life is discussed very frankly by a group of young people associated with literature and art.'
Another review tells us that one of the characters is a writer. 'Jimmie, when he is not writing fundamental novels full of complexes and inhibitions, roams the Sussex Downs and imbibes the local ale.' This reminds me of something Richard Heygate wrote to me in an email, describing the lifestyle of Evelyn Waugh when he was newly married to She-Evelyn and the pair were spending time with John Heygate. The three used to enjoy visiting rural pubs together in the south of England, roughing it with the locals.
Actually, the last performance of Why Drag in Marriage? was on June 22, 1929, just three days before the night of parties that She-Evelyn and John Heygate enjoyed and which I've written about here. Perhaps She-Evelyn and John even discussed the play on board the Friendship that night, batting back and forth the provocative title. After all, John was about to propose to Eleanor Watts. He was about to sleep with She-Evelyn, thus putting a bomb under the Waughs' marriage. Why drag in marriage? It might have been the phrase of the summer.
The file at the Cadbury Research Library contains many pictures of the cast and one of the play's author. So here is a clear photograph of Audrey Scott, neglected lover of Evelyn Waugh. Perhaps I choose such words to describe her because of the slightly disappointed expression on her face, which really does seem to echo the face in the foreground of the Waugh watercolour reproduced in the first section of this essay.
I suspect Evelyn did not go to Audrey's play. He was on the infamous Mediterranean cruise when it opened and was busy writing Vile Bodies for much of its run. But I bet J.M.Barrie attended, not least because he lived close to the Strand Theatre. He would have been so proud of little Audrey. The woman who he wrote to at Christmas, 1921, from his superb top-floor flat close to Trafalgar Square, with its magnificent view of the Thames at Charing Cross.
Further into this letter, Barrie wrote: 'One night this week, about two in the morning, the embankment suddenly lit up as if lightning had come to stay. In time it dawned on me that the cinema must be at work so out I went and found them doing London Nights. I was taken (with a crowd) drinking coffee at a stall, and I'm told I figured therein in a picture in the Daily Mirror.'
The reviewer of Why Drag in Marriage? in The Looker-on wrote: 'This young author is going quite a long way if she gets a bit of luck at the starting gate.' Some printed words of support from the famous Barrie would have constituted such a bit of luck, but I don't think they were forthcoming. Certainly, his name does not crop up anywhere in the Cadbury Research Library file.
Still there's these words of encouragement in The Sketch: 'That Miss Scott will write a good play one of these days is a foregone conclusion; she has the knack but as yet her knowledge of life is merely angular and obviously incomplete.'
At that stage, Audrey's knowledge of Evelyn may have been 'merely angular and obviously incomplete'. But look what happens next.
4) AUDREY AND EVELYN TOGETHER, 1930
In 1930, the year which began with Vile Bodies becoming a bestseller, Evelyn Waugh and Audrey Lucas met again. And this time Audrey's feelings for Evelyn were reciprocated. Or, if not reciprocated, at least this time Evelyn was willing to get involved sexually.
Alec Waugh tells us in My Brother Evelyn that Evelyn invited a woman friend to Monte Carlo for a holiday. Alec was too much the gentleman to name the woman in question when writing in 1967, but Martin Stannard reckons it was Audrey Lucas. Certainly, in May, when Evelyn resumed his diary - something he'd abandoned or destroyed from the She-Evelyn period - he tells us that Audrey had informed him that she might be pregnant. By him.
But lets take this slowly. First, here is Evelyn on his way out to meet Alec in Villefranche in April 1930.
As Alec Waugh puts it in My Brother Evelyn: 'He was without responsibilities; he had money in the bank. He had, he told me, a romantic rendezvous in Monte Carlo. He was able for the first time in his life to say to an attractive female: "What ghastly weather we are having. Don't you think three weeks in Monte Carlo would be a good idea?"'
Evelyn Waugh went from five days with his brother in Villefranche (see them standing in the harbour, above) to two weeks (or so) with Audrey in Monte Carlo. Alas, there are no photos to prove it. Just this:
And, at a pinch, this:
Audrey: "What's that book you're reading, Evelyn?"
Evelyn: "The one that's got you by the short and curlies."
Audrey: "Vile Bodies?"
Evelyn: "Thanks. But I mean the one that's had you by the short and curlies since you were seven years old."
Audrey: "Isn't it marvellous?"
Evelyn: "Well, 'Second star to the right and straight on til morning,' is certainly a good line in respect of finding one's way home: Though it did let me down the time I tried to walk to Underhill from Olivia's that night in 1925."
Audrey: "I wrote you a letter the next day."
Evelyn: "You told me that all the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust."
Audrey: "I told you that the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it."
Evelyn: "You told me that to live will be an awfully big adventure."
Audrey: "I told you that when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
Evelyn: "You told me that you were going to marry Harold Scott."
Audrey: "No, that was the next letter. Besides, why drag in marriage?"
So, in Monte Carlo in 1930, Audrey at last had what she wanted? I somehow doubt it, given the tone of Evelyn's diary entries when they resumed in May of that year. Self-congratulation seems to have prompted the return to keeping a journal. The first entry, that for Monday, May 19, is all about his remunerative negotiations with the Daily Mail.
Three days later, Audrey threw a cocktail party. Waugh wondered why she was being affectionate towards him, then realised it was because she wanted money. Money that the bestselling author of Vile Bodies was awash with. Indeed, Evelyn gave her what she asked for. The tone of these entries is brusque and cynical. Gone - or buried - was the lost boy of 1925. The entry ends with the sentence, 'Had photograph taken.' I suspect the photo below was from the professionally lit shoot. More to follow:
Evelyn Waugh by Howard Coster, 1930
On May 26, Waugh went to the Savoy Theatre and said: 'I am Evelyn Waugh. Please give me a seat.' And he got one. This is also the first diary entry to mention 'Baby'. It would become evident that Baby, or Teresa Jungman, was Evelyn's new love object. Which meant that Audrey, as in 1925, found herself unloved by the man she loved.
On May 29, Evelyn was at a 'delightful cocktail party' given by Harold Acton at his large house on Lancaster Gate. During the course of the evening, Audrey told him that she thought she was going to have a baby. Presumably this meant that she had missed the period she was due to have had, say, a week before. Which would fit in with Evelyn and Audrey having sex in Monte Carlo in April. Waugh's response was that he didn't care either way, so long as any resulting child was a boy. Not sure why Evelyn took this attitude, because, as Peter Pan told Wendy: 'One girl is more use than twenty boys'. Believe it, vain Evelyn:
Evelyn Waugh by Howard Coster, 1930
Imagine you're a waiter at a party in London in summer, 1930, and the handsome pair pictured below walk in. None other than Evelyn Waugh, author of Vile Bodies and Audrey Scott, author of Why Drag in Marriage? Such bright young modern people with the world at their feet. And yet look into their eyes. The world may be at their feet but it's not exactly playing ball with them. Happiness that much-elusive mistress!
Back to the waiter scenario:
"I am Evelyn Waugh. Please give me a cocktail."
Swiftly followed by:
"I am Audrey Lucas." (And I am so pissed off with Evelyn.) "Please give me a cocktail."
Swiftly followed by:
"I am Evelyn Waugh. Please give me another cocktail."
Yes, in those days, being a waiter for the upwardly mobile, top-of-the-heap-and-still-climbing would have had its moments.
Anyway, a few days later, Evelyn had lunch with Harold Acton, again at 108 Lancaster Gate. After which he went to Audrey's and took her to Underhill to have tea with his parents. That was on Sunday, June 1. By Friday of that week, Evelyn was being driven from London to the south coast in the company of Diana Guinness and Audrey. They spent the weekend at Poole Place. Audrey felt ill all weekend. On the Tuesday, the threesome returned to London and had lunch at Diana'a house on Buckingham Street after which Evelyn spent the afternoon with Bryan Guinness.
The photo I'm placing here was taken around this time. It's the only photo I know that shows Evelyn Waugh and Diana Guinness together. Bryan Guinness is also present (his swimming costume contrasting with Evelyn's double-breasted suit) though the other woman sitting on the ground is Pansy Lamb, rather than Audrey. But one gets the idea of summer, 1930. The world, literally, at Evelyn's feet. But still somehow not enough.
Now the pace hots up. Thursday, June 12, was the beginning of a particularly wild four days, which I'll dwell on given where this piece is going:
Day One (of a four-day racket).
Lunch at a woman's club. Tea with Olivia Plunket Greene and her mother. Cocktails with Sachie Sitwell. Dinner with Richard and Elizabeth Plunket Greene. A small party afterwards at which Paul Robeson passed out. Evelyn then 'went back' and slept with Varda, the separated wife of an art historian, but the pair were too drunk to enjoy themselves.
Day Two (of a four-day racket)
'Felt very ill indeed.' Lunch with Billy Clonmore at Isola Bella. Cocktails at Lancaster Gate after one hour's sleep. Party on the Friendship co-hosted by Olivia Wyndham, she being the woman who had hosted a party there in the summer of 1929, fatal to Waugh's marriage. Evelyn writes that the party was not enough of an orgy despite there 'being masses of little lesbian tarts and joyboys'. There was one fight. After the party, Waugh went to Vyvyan Holland's where everyone fell asleep. The diary entry ends enigmatically with the name 'Enid Raphael'. A footnote in The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh informs the reader that Enid was a girl celebrated for remarking, 'I don't know why people talk about their private parts. MIne aren't private.'
Day Three (of a four-day racket)
'Felt very ill.' Waugh got some sleep then dined with Richard and Elizabeth and arranged to take their flat while his own parents were abroad and while they were on holiday. (OK, I admit, Saturday was a bit of a respite.)
Day Four (of a four-day racket.)
The Hon. Hamish St Clair-Erskine had a cocktail party in Oxford. Evelyn hired a Rolls-Royce and took Zena and Harold down to it. A delightful day for Evelyn but marred by a single row, when Randolph Churchill threw a cocktail in Wanda's face (Varda, Zena, Wanda it's difficult to keep up with these chic names). After Waugh had said to Wanda 'How hot you look,' she left the party in a temper. John Betjeman later said, 'Yes, I noticed a cocktail in Wanda's face.' Evelyn's group dined at the George in Oxford. The Rolls had five people in it for the return journey to London where they arrived back at 2am. The following day, Evelyn woke 'feeling rather ill'.
I wonder if Waugh still looked as fresh-faced after the four-day racket. Or whether John Betjeman would have noticed innumerable cocktails in Evelyn's face.
Evelyn Waugh by Howard Coster, 1930
On Thursday, June 19 (four days after the four-dayer), Diana threw a huge cocktail party which Evelyn greatly enjoyed. After cocktails he went to dinner at Quaglino's with Audrey, who told him she was not going to have a baby after all. 'So all that is bogus,' he commented. But the date suggests to me that, a month down the line, Audrey had had her period as usual and so the previous missed period must have been an anomaly (rather than a pregnancy). From dinner, Waugh went to a party. Then went round to Audrey's for another party. There he waited for hours to sleep with Audrey but 'she was too tired'. Perhaps she just hadn't liked the way he'd responded to the news earlier in the evening that she wasn't pregnant. Perhaps she didn't feel too much empathy coming from Evelyn the self-regarding.
Audrey doesn't get another mention in Evelyn's diary until a week later. On Wednesday, June 25, Audrey and Evelyn dined at St James Square. The next day Audrey came to dinner. But these are short entries.
Again on Tuesday July 8, they had dinner together, this time at the Hyde Park Grill. And the next day Evelyn went to the theatre with Audrey, followed by dinner at Quaglino's and on to St James Square. Evelyn had borrowed Richard and Elizabeth's flat, so I think that accounts for the couple of mentions of the address at the end of June and beginning of July.
A week later (Wednesday, July 16), Waugh met Audrey in the morning. On the Friday of that week he dined with her at Quaglino's again. On Monday, July 21, Audrey accompanied Evelyn to buy a puppy from Olivia. Two days later Evelyn had dinner with Audrey and her mother and an Irish writer in a Soho restaurant. That weekend he went to Jim Laurence's house but by Sunday couldn't stand it any longer and fled back to London where he dined with Audrey at the Ritz and 'spent the evening with her'.
By the end of July, Evelyn had taken the Lambs' house in Coombe Bissett for three weeks. And a week into that, Audrey came to stay with him for three days.
The final entries concerning Audrey are towards the end of August. On the 20th, Waugh wrote in his diary 'Audrey wants more money. I said no.' Two days later he commented: 'Audrey seems to bear very little malice for my refusal to give her money.' She was still sleeping with him then? I would say so.
Evelyn Waugh by Howard Coster, 1930
By this time, Evelyn was under instruction from a priest, and by the end of September he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. Then, in October, he travelled to Africa to attend the coronation of Haile Selassie, to cover this event for The TImes and to get material for a travel book. He was away for five or six months. Audrey's name doesn't ever crop up again in his diary.
Which would seem to finish the story. Except that it definitely does not.
5) BLACK MISCHIEF
When Evelyn came to write his third novel in 1932. He referred heavily to what was going on in his life in the summer of 1930 before departing for Africa for six months. In other words, the long chapter three which introduces Basil Seal is largely autobiographical. It's been said by many, including Waugh, that Basil Seal was partly based on Peter Rodd, an Oxford contemporary and the man who Nancy Mitford fell in love with. No doubt, in certain superficial ways this was true: Basil shares Peter's urbanity, physical attractiveness and skill with languages. But in deeper, crucial ways, Basil is Evelyn.
In his previous novels, Evelyn's protagonists had been innocents: Paul Pennyfeather and Adam Fenwick-Symes. But following the success of Vile Bodies and his relationship with Audrey Lucas, Waugh could think of himself - indeed could write of himself - in a much more worldly way.
The reader is introduced to Basil waking up on a sofa of a totally strange flat, having been on a 'four-day racket'. He has no idea who the pair are who are also in the room with him, and is given the advice to just go. He finds himself stepping out into King's Road, Chelsea. In the summer of 1930, Evelyn must have woken up in many strange flats so peripatetic was his lifestyle. I can't help wondering where Vyvyan Holland lived in 1930 and if Enid Raphael was in the habit of eating sardines from a tin with a shoehorn after being on a bender.
Basil then walks to his club. In the summer of 1930, Waugh joined the Savile Club (red tack near top edge of the map below) so that he would have somewhere else to eat alone and to entertain friends in the middle of London having got used to doing exactly that through having the use of Richard and Elizabeth Plunket Greene's flat in St James's Square for two or three weeks. However, the address Waugh seems to have in mind for Basil's club is White's (red tack near the Ritz in the map below), which Evelyn didn't actually join until a few years later. I say this because Basil is said to walk from his club across Piccadilly and along Curzon Street on his way to Pastmaster House on Hill Street. Where he imposes himself on a cocktail party hosted by Lady Metroland, to which he has not been invited.
Of course, Lady Metroland is Margot Beste Chetwynde as was, introduced to readers in Decline and Fall and who'd evolved into a high society hostess in Vile Bodies. The character was based on She-Evelyn's sister, Alathea Fry, as is illustrated and discussed here.
At Pastmaster House we learn that Basil's lover is Angela Lyne. This A.L. corresponds to the A.L. of Audrey Lucas. Strange that, as far as I'm aware, no-one has made this connection before. As I sit at my desk and screen in August 2015 it seems obvious. But then that's the internet for you, lighting up the first half of the Twentieth Century as if it was yesterday.
'Poor Angela is literally off her head with him,' says a character in Black Mischief. And we hear that Basil has recently torpedoed his hopes of getting elected in a West Country constituency by going on a five-day racket there involving London friends, bad cheques and a motor accident. 'The trouble is that poor Angela still fancies him rather'.
Basil's next stop is his mother's house in Lowndes Square. She was giving a dinner party that evening and Basil was one of the first guests to arrive. He is told by a servant that Angela has phoned up fifteen times for him, but has left no message. Of course, this house with its Lady Seal is nothing like the middle class Underhill in north London where Waugh's parents lived. But no doubt certain aspects of Basil's disregard for his parent's well-intentioned wishes is a reflection of the Waugh household. And no doubt Audrey, who regularly dined with the Waughs, was in the habit of phoning Underhill in an effort to track down Evelyn.
From Lowndes Square, Basil drives north to Montagu Square where his friends Alastair and Sonia Trumpington live. The fact that Basil joins his friends on a large bed, and that a dog is present, brings to mind the Diana and Bryan Guinness household. But Basil is so relaxed with his friends - sitting between them as they eat whitebait, grilled kidneys and toasted cheese on their knees - that his long, close friendship with Richard and Elizabeth Plunkett Greene is also evoked. The three play Happy Families together and that's what they seem to be, a happy - childishly irresponsible - family.
From Montagu Square, Basil returns to Lowndes Square, having effectively missed his mother's dinner party and forced her to find a last minute replacement for him at the table. He is there to borrow money. Failing in that endeavour, he phones A.L. who is in bed. I'll quote their conversation, if I may. At first, after he speaks to her, there is a silence...
'Hullo, are you there, Angela? Basil speaking.'
'Yes, darling, I heard. Only I didn't quite know what to say... I've just got in...Such a dull evening...I rang you up today...couldn't get on to you.'
'How odd you sound.'
'Well, yes...why did you ring up? It's late.'
'I'm coming round to see you.'
'My dear, you can't possibly.'
'I was going to say goodbye - I'm going away for some time.'
'Yes, I suppose that's a good thing.'
'Well, don't you want me to come?'
'You'll have to be sweet to me. You see I've been in rather a muddle lately. You will be sweet, darling, won't you? I don't think I could bear it if you weren't.'
That scene captures the woman's adoration of the man. (Poor Angela/Audrey, besotted with Basil/Evelyn and made so vulnerable as a result.)
As Basil and Angela are lying together in bed after making love, Waugh then refers to their financial relationship, reversing the dependency that was actually there between himself and Audrey:
'It's time you went away...shall I tell you something?'
'I'm going to give you some money.'
'Well, that is nice.'
'You see, when you rang up I knew that was what you wanted. And you've been sweet tonight really, though you were boring about that island. So I thought that just for tonight I'd like not to have you asking for money. Before, I've enjoyed making it awkward for you. Did you know? Well I had to have some fun, hadn't I? - and I think I used to embarrass even you sometimes. And I used to watch you steering the conversation round. I knew that anxious look in your eye so well. But tonight I thought it would be a treat just to let you be nice and no bother and I've enjoyed myself. I made out a cheque before you came...on the dressing table. It's for rather a lot.'
'You're a grand girl.'
'When do you start?'
'I'll miss you. Have a good time.'
It must have felt so odd for Audrey Lucas, reading this when Black Mischief came out, as she must surely have done. Not only because it portrays her relationship with Evelyn, but because it does so with sensitivity and self-deprecation. Angela is certainly a more sympathetic character than Basil. One is supposed to feel sorry for her. And I do.
But it may have felt odd to Audrey for another reason. The scene of Basil visiting Angela late at night, with all his talk of imminently flying off to an island, brings to mind the beginning and end of Peter Pan. That is, Peter Pan in Wendy's bedroom, the boy who was full of boasts, full of his exploits with mermaids and pirates, full of what he would get up to when he flew off to Neverland.
In the past, Basil had spent all the money his aunt had left him on an expedition to Afghanistan. He'd been set up as a banker in Brazil and had never once gone into the office. He had been handed a Conservative candidacy in order that he might stand for parliament and had behaved most irresponsibly in the heart of his potential constituency. What had Peter done in the past? He'd killed a lot of pirates, but it was no good asking him for details, because once they were dead he forgot about them. Peter was fixated on triumphs to come. As was Basil.
In Peter Pan there's a sadness when Peter flies off to Neverland. He says he'll be back the next year, and he is, but by then he's forgotten all about the adventures he and Wendy once shared together. The next spring cleaning he forgets to come back at all. And after that, years pass before he returns.
One can tell that Angela Lyne has years of sadness in front of her as Basil will continue to behave badly - exploits that are recounted in Put Out More Flags. But what about Audrey? How did she feel as the years passed and Evelyn didn't return to her? Actually, Alec Waugh in his book, The Best Wine Last, states that Audrey and Evelyn were lovers in 1930 and 1931. But I would like corroboration of Evelyn hooking up again with Audrey after his return from Africa.
6) AUDREY LUCAS AND JOYCE GILL
I don't know if Audrey expressed what she felt about what may have been the love of her life. But another woman that Evelyn loved in the early thirties expressed herself most movingly. Evelyn was having an affair with Joyce Gill in 1935 when he asked her to go to Abyssinia with him. She very much wanted to, but, with a husband and children in the UK, felt she couldn't. In February 1938, she wrote to Evelyn, casting light on what had passed between them.
'It’s nearly 13 March which was the day you jokingly suggested that we might meet each year until I am seventy. And so I suppose that day will be for me a kind of agony for ever and ever . . . ”
I'll interrupt Joyce just long enough to say that the set up is like Peter Pan saying he'll come back for Wendy every year at spring cleaning time...
“...I do what you suggested and what – in my foolishness – I thought almost a crime. I think of you all the time when I am making love, until the word and Evelyn are almost synonymous! And in the darkness each night and in the greyness of each morning when I awake I remember your face – and your voice and your body and everything about you – so earnestly and intensely that you become almost tangibly beside me...’
I should interrupt again to say that Evelyn had got to know Joyce at Oxford when he'd smuggled her into a party dressed as a boy. Joyce was a couple of years older than Evelyn, musical, an active socialist and unconventional even in the Bohemian world in which she lived.
Joyce Fagan before her marriage.
Having been introduced to the Bloomsbury Group, she then met Edmund Gosse and Arthur Waugh. Arthur introduced her to Alec, and he to Evelyn, and so to the party at Oxford. Later, she married Donald Gill, an American businessman. But back to her mesmerising letter:
'...After I am forty I won’t want to see you. Then even the possibility of having your child will be gone. And I suppose that is at the root of this – this – I can’t call it infatuation – because I know that that is an unworthy word for it; because I know, darling, that love is a juster description. I shall try most terribly hard to conform to the normal convention of ‘decency’ and not bombard you with love letters. And if ever I do write, darling, it is not a ‘begging letter’, only because I remember that once you said, ‘write to me if it helps’ . . . Almost I could be contented if every night I could write and say, ‘Evelyn, I love you,’ and every morning I could say, ‘Evelyn, God bless you,’ But what nonsense! Of course I could not be content. I have only to remember your eyes – your mouth – and my heart aches as if it were a stone cut by a diamond.’
I suspect Audrey didn't write such a letter to Evelyn, even though she may have agreed with its sentiments. But she did write a lot. In the Thirties, she wrote books that were published, and later she adapted other peoples books for the radio. I'm going to go through that now as it fleshes out her character and leads to a poignant place of its own.
7) AUDREY LUCAS, AUTHOR 1935-39
Audrey published five books in five years, one a year from 1935 to 1939. She published them under the name of Lucas so presumably was divorced from Harold Scott by this time. Oh, how the wheel turns!
I've quickly read Double Turn, which came out in 1935. It's a novel with a background of the London theatre. The protagonist, Fred, is in a marriage to a manipulative woman, Nina. But because they have a child, Fred sticks with NIna (which could be a Vile Bodies reference), though she treats him worse as time goes on. Fred's career is thwarted at every turn by NIna's ego, selfishness and stupidity. But eventually he gets some success when he teams up with a pal and they do a comedy routine together. Fred and Mick's banter doesn't make me laugh, but I was pleased for Fred when a more suitable love match comes his way towards the end of the book through a woman called Lois.
Come to think of it, 'Lois' has a 'Lucas' feel to it. So let's just take a look at a scene with Audrey and Evelyn in mind. Perhaps even with that time in January 1925, when, late at night, Audrey told Evelyn that she loved him:
"Lois!" The timidity in her voice had seemed infinitely touching to Fred, "You really mean that, my darling?"
"Oh, I do mean it!"
"You really want to marry me? Even though I'm dull and ordinary?"
"Do you say stupid things like that to put me off? Don't you want me?"
"I want you so much that I'm torturing myself by warning you that there is nothing romantic about me."
"But there is," said Lois, "because I'm in love with you. And I'm going on being in love with you. I think I was meant to be."
"And you really want to marry me? For ever?"
"Of course, for ever."
"Oh, Lois, my love," cried Fred. He held her tightly, asking her in a whisper: "Are you my love?"
"You know I am," answered Lois, and Fred laid his head against her breasts. He believed her.
Obviously the conversation between Audrey and Evelyn in 1925 didn't go exactly like that, because out of the corner of his eye Evelyn was ogling Olivia. But there's nothing wrong with a bit of wish fulfilment in novel-writing.
In 1936, Friendly Relations came out. This is how it was reviewed in The Saturday Review of August 15:
If this can be related to Evelyn Waugh's life (and why not) then perhaps when he returned from Africa various people, including Audrey, had unrealistic expectations of how their life would be changed.
The third novel, Life Class, turns out to be about a young male novelist. Here is a review from the Argus in Melbourne. Every time the name 'Mathew Lenox' crops up, try substituting 'Evelyn Waugh'.
Fascinating or what? Audrey knew Evelyn's parents and perhaps her novel will shed light on their opinions on their son's character. What relation does the 'minor intelligentsia' mentioned have to the Bright Young Things of Vile Bodies? If Audrey's novel doesn't end with Mathew Lenox and Georgina getting married, how does their relationship pan out? I can't answer these questions until I've read the book which I've just this minute ordered. Watch this site.
Audrey's next book was a novel called Old Motley. Perhaps not surprisingly, she would seem to have taken a rest from writing about her lovers.
It's a long review, and in the middle of it there is a photograph of the author who would have been forty in 1938. Very similar to the publicity photograph that had been taken in connection with Why Drag in Marriage?, nine years earlier.
Also in 1938, Audrey's father died and the book she published the following year, E.V. Lucas: A Portrait was a memoir of him. It's her best known book and there was a copy of it in Evelyn Waugh's library at his death.
Reading the opening chapter reminds me how similar the upbringings of Evelyn and Audrey were. Both their fathers lived for writing and for reading. The Diary of a Nobody was a favourite of both, and so was Dickens. Audrey and her father would read books simultaneously, even if they were apart. And so she has a postcard from him when she was ten-years-old bearing only the message that, 'Miss Creevey is a dear'. So Audrey can date her first reading of Nicholas Nickleby to then. A Highland holiday was once devoted to Dombey and Son. While in the last year of his life, postcards from Sweden updated Audrey on her father's progress through David Copperfield for perhaps the twentieth time in his life.
Evelyn says of his father in A Little Learning, 'He read aloud with precision of tone, authority and variety that I have heard excelled only by Sir John Geilguid. For some eight years of my life, for some three or four evenings a week when we were at home, he read to me, my brother and to whatever friends might be in the house, for an hour or more from his own favourites - most of Shakespeare, most of Dickens, most of Tennyson, much of Browning, Trollope, Swinburne and Matthew Arnold.'
But E.V Lucas was Audrey's last book. I suspect her career as a fiction (and non-fiction) writer was cut short by the war. Not only was there a paper shortage, but the war changed everything. Even Evelyn had to abandon the novel he was working on (published in due course as Work Suspended) and join the war effort. Though, of course, as a far more established writer, he was always going to resume writing books and getting them published.
Actually, going through Audrey's pile of five books again, I've just noticed something. The first novel, Double Turn is dedicated to 'D.' Who is D? Well, a good rule of thumb is that a book is dedicated to the person they're currently having conjugal relations with. So let's bear that in mind.
A little internet investigation shows that Audrey married Douglas Clarke-Smith. Douglas was previously married to the actress Alice Bowes. So I'm now supposing that Double Turn, dedicated to D., tells the story of his career in theatre, his unhappy first marriage to a first-class bitch, and his meeting the lovely Lois.
E.V. Lucas mentions a 'D.' in it's final chapter. In the acknowledgements of that book, Audrey thanks a whole heap of people. 'And above all, to Douglas Clarke-Smith for his invaluable help in correcting my proofs.'
Hmmm, yes, I can see/hear it now:
D.: 'Do your proofs want correcting tonight, darling?"
A.: "I'll say they do, D.. My proofs need correcting tonight more than they've ever done before."
D: "Ah, those soft, yielding proofs of yours..."
Douglas was an actor, born in Montrose on 1888. So he was ten years older than Audrey and shared her profession. What's more, Montrose is just a few miles from Kirriemuir where J.M.Barrie was born. Barrie referred all his life to his love of the little Scottish town that he emerged from.
Here is a portrait of Douglas Clarke-Smith from 1944.
That looks like a script in Douglas's hand. I wonder if it's Apart from All That, which was co-written by himself and Audrey and filed for copyright purposes in December 1937, their address being given as Frithwald, Chertsey, England. An address that also crops up in the colophon of E.V. Lucas.
But by 1944 the marriage of Douglas and Audrey must have been over. Douglas married again in 1945. While in 1943 there first occurs an entry in the London Gazette concerning proceedings under the bankruptcy court. I'm not sure whether Audrey is the bankrupt, or some kind of debtor, but she is named as follows:
I wonder if, by the end of the relationship, Audrey was taking the advice Evelyn had given Joyce Gill and may well have given Audrey herself. That is, when she was making love with her husband she should think of him. True, if the advice had been given, it had been in respect of her first husband, Harold Scott. But I don't suppose Evelyn ever meant the advice to be husband-specific.
So take your choice, Audrey. When making love to your second husband while in the death throes of that relationship, you can think about old Douglas or you can be remembering the young Evelyn you made love to in 1930, the same year that Bryan Guinness commissioned a portrait of Evelyn from Henry Lamb.
Let Joyce and Audrey speak as one: “...I do what you suggested and what – in my foolishness – I thought almost a crime. I think of you all the time when I am making love, until the word and Evelyn are almost synonymous! And in the darkness each night and in the greyness of each morning when I awake I remember your face – and your voice and your body and everything about you – so earnestly and intensely that you become almost tangibly beside me...’
8) AUDREY LUCAS, THE WAR AND BEYOND
Evelyn became a soldier; Audrey got a job with the BBC. Her part towards the war effort was to adapt books so that they would work as radio broadcasts. Perhaps it was her own initiative, because an adaptation of one of her father's children's stories, Sir Franklin and the Little Mothers went out on the airwaves in December 1940. Before that her adaptation of E. Nesbit's The Railway Children had been broadcast in May.
In 1940, Audrey did have a play staged in the West End which was reviewed by George Orwell. Orwell didn't like Portrait of Helen much, but his review reveals that Lydia Wells, the divorced wife of Peter Wells, a novelist ruined by success, returns to his household (as a housekeeper) after a gap of many years, to look after the interests of her grown-up children. Now this could be Audrey reflecting on her relationship with Evelyn again. (How do you get from Evelyn Waugh to Peter Wells? Evelyn to Peter is via Basil, and Wells is another famous author beginning with W.) Or it might not be about A.L. and E.W. at all; it might be about Sylvia Davies, who died leaving her children in the care of J.M.Barrie, many of them coming to unfortunate ends. (How do you get from J.M Barrie to Peter Wells? Peter was Barrie's most famous creation, and Wells is another famous author of Barrie's era.) Difficult to say without taking a look at the script. If anyone knows of an extant copy, please let me know.
In each of 1940, 1941 and 1942, Audrey adapted a Charles Dickens novel for broadcasting as a 12-part serial. David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were the titles. Obviously this must have meant immersing herself in Dickens and may simply have been a continuation of her tribute to her father. However, Audrey must have been aware of Tony Last's fate in A Handful of Dust, for she would surely have read that novel when it came out in 1934. Perhaps, like everyone else, she admired that book for the way its author made successful art out of his own heartbreak. The woman that Evelyn's Tony had loved was unfaithful to him and, ultimately, though Tony struggled against his fate, this sentenced him to a deeply ironic and futile existence. Well, if reading Dickens novels aloud to Mr Todd of the Brazilian jungle was good enough for Evelyn's protagonist, broadcasting Dickens over the air-waves to the people of Britain was good enough for Audrey.
I would dearly like to know what happened to Audrey Lucas after the war. I know that in 1943 she was living at 44 Gloucester Place, London, and that John Cheatle also lived at that address. Cheatle was a BBC producer who'd worked with Audrey on a Dorothy L. Sayers/Lord Peter Wimsey adaption that year. Apparently, he was a very talented and funny man. Apparently also, he gassed himself that same year when his BBC job came under threat as a result of his heavy drinking.
Impact of John Cheatle's suicide on Audrey? I can't say. She doesn't seem to have published any books or written any plays or appeared in any radio credits since 1943.
She lived until 1975 and until I know otherwise I'll be imagining her reading Dickens' novels over and over again. In so doing, remembering her father and devoting a fundamental part of herself to the memory of her Evelyn.
But let's not forget the importance of Peter Pan in Audrey's psyche. I wonder how often she read the final pages of that little gem with Evelyn, or at least Basil Seal, in mind.
'And then one night came the tragedy. It was the spring of that year. Wendy was sitting on the floor, very close to the fire, so as to see to darn; and while she sat darning she heard a crow. Then the window blew open as of old and Peter dropped on the floor.
He was exactly the same as ever, and Wendy saw at once that he still had all his own first teeth.
He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman.
"Hallo Wendy," he said, not noticing any difference, for he was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her white dress might have been the night-gown in which he had seen her first.
'Hallo, Peter," she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying, 'Woman, woman, let go of me.'
"Peter," she said, faltering, "are you expecting me to fly away with you?"
"Of course; that is why I have come." He added a little sternly, "Have you forgotten that this is spring cleaning time?"
She knew it was useless to say that he had let many spring cleaning times pass.
"I can't come," she said apologetically, "I have forgotten how to fly."
"I'll soon teach you again."
"O Peter, don't waste the fairy dust on me."
She had risen; and now at last a fear assailed him. "What is it?" he cried, shrinking.
"I will turn up the light," she said, "and then you can see for yourself."
For almost the only time in his life that I know of, Peter was afraid. "Don't turn up the light," he cried.
She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was not a little girl heart-broken about him; she was a grown woman smiling at it all, but they were wet-eyed smiles.
Then she turned up the light, and Peter saw. He gave a cry of pain; and when the tall beautiful creature stooped to lift him in her arms he drew back sharply.
"What is it?" he cried again.
She had to tell him.
"I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago."'
I've sub-titled this essay, 'The Importance of Being Angela'. Audrey Lucas's importance, as far as Evelyn Waugh's history is concerned, was in loving him in 1930 and in giving him the confidence to portray himself as Basil Seal in Black Mischief. Equally, I suspect it was the recovery of Evelyn's self-confidence as a sexual being that allowed him to go on to write in depth and with maturity about the failed affair with She-Evelyn.
If there had been no Audrey Lucas in Evelyn Waugh's life there would have been no Black MIschief and no A Handful of Dust either, not in the form that they have been handed down to us. And having added the man of the world and the rejected lover to his repertoire, when Waugh reverted to the innocent abroad in his fifth novel, Scoop, his achievement seemed - and still seems - all the more impressive.
In other words, Evelyn Waugh had a lot to thank Audrey Lucas for. Perhaps even more than I presently calculate. I'm looking forward to reading Life Class.
As for Audrey herself, she may have been one of the thwarted female intelligences that artist Grayson Perry mentioned on a Channel 4 program recently. Her best remembered book is the straightforward memoir of her father, but all that does is mark that she grew up in a man's world. Perhaps her entire oeuvre is a more in-depth investigation of the same - a creative, empathetic woman living in a man's world. Her first husband may well be featured in Why Drag in Marriage? Her second husband is probably the focus of her first novel, Double Turn. Evelyn Waugh may well be subtly satirised in her second novel, Life Class. As I say, I'll be finding out.
I suspect JM Barrie as writer and guardian is investigated in the play, Portrait of Helen. But all we have to go on is George Orwell's review which is not very useful. He may have known nothing about the author of the play's relation with the author of Peter Pan. And he was surely distracted by news of the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk, which was received between the acts when he saw the play on May 29, 1940. Yes, it can't have been easy trying to be creative in a man's world. Not in the middle of a war-torn Twentieth Century.
Audrey Lucas: one of the thwarted female intelligences that the Twentieth century - not to mention earlier times - abounds with. They lie buried just under the surface of history. But if you prick their bodies, you find that they still bleed.
Better still, if you stroke their neglected egos, they still breathe.