This is a longer version of a piece in WAUGH BITES, at the top of the menu.

Evelyn changed his signature in his late twenties, when his life was in transition. His first wife, Evelyn Gardner had left him in summer 1929. In autumn 1930 he converted to Roman Catholicism and took a trip to Africa. But when exactly did his signature change? In what way? And for what reason?

Here are examples of Waugh's signature from before the change. These will be followed by examples of signatures after the change. And then I'll offer an explanation. Easy! - eh?

The first signature is from a rare copy of Waugh's first book. That is
P.R.B. an essay on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The book, privately published by Alastair Graham, was sent out to friends in November, 1926.

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Below is the signature on Rossetti, which was published by Duckworth in 1928. Anthony Powell worked for Duckworth so Evelyn hadn't been wasting his time in sending him the above signed copy of P.R.B.

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Below is the signature from a Christmas card. A collage of quotes cut from tabloid newspapers, ending with 'BE A SUCCESSFUL ARTIST. There is Joy and Profit in Creative Art

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Below is the signature on a letter to Bryan and Diana Guinness with which he enclosed the manuscript of
Vile Bodies.

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The signature on a copy of
Vile Bodies given to friends David and Tamara Talbot Rice. in 1930

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Labels also came out in 1930.

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Evelyn Waugh is getting the hang of his own signature by now. Because he's having to sign a big pile of his own book. Perhaps it could be said that this is the definitive first signature.

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I wonder if it could be said this next was a transitional signature. The big change will be to the opening 'E.' That's not happening here. But the other change is that the 'y' and the 'g' go from having a forward loop down below to a backward stroke. As you'll see better soon.


That's from an undated letter to E.A. Chapman-Andrews but pretty sure to be from June 1931, when Evelyn was in France writing
Remote People.

Below is the first example I have of where the capital 'E' for Evelyn is done in a new way.

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Again, because he was having to sign a lot of books. This new signature quickly became standard. The large print edition of
Black Mischief came out in October 1932. All the copies are signed in the same way.

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So the signature changed in 1931. Why might that be so?

Well, 1931 was the year when
Rossetti was republished by Duckworth. Evelyn asked for the dedication to his first wife to be taken out for this second edition. In other words, the following appears on its own on a page in the 1928 first edition:


Perhaps this led to Waugh closely considering the word 'Evelyn' and in what way it should be manifested in ink. At a time when he was distancing himself from his first wife, expunging her name from his book, he might have decided to update his own 'Evelyn'. Perhaps with a view to making his own 'Evelyn' look less like hers. So instead of a soft, rounded 'E', the 'E' becomes a bold vertical with three horizontal slashes.

The change may also have been made with a view to making his own written 'Evelyn' look less like hers. What did She-Evelyn's signature look like? It looked like this, the sample signatures have been taken from letters that she wrote to her friend John Maxse in 1928 and 1929.

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A complication is that in one of the letters Shevelyn wrote to John Maxse between 1928 and 1929 she used the vertical and three horizontal style.

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Which reminds me that when I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I was taught to write in script but also given the print options. And there was a certain amount of coming and going between script and unjoined-up letters in my handwriting.

Looking at the manuscript of
Decline and Fall, which was written in 1928, Waugh uses script for some capitals and prints others. The 'S' and the T are printed. However, each time a capital E comes up it is in rounded, script style: E.

Conclusion: Evelyn changed his signature in 1931, possibly to as a way of moving on from the failure of his first marriage.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Jumping on a few years., the signature doesn't change much.

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And jumping to 1959.

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And jumping all the way to 1964, this is how the copies of
Basil Seal Rides Again were signed.

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The backward strokes on the 'y' and the 'g' have been smoothed out, becoming backward loops. But that's not much of a change. It's an ironic one though, because in She-Evelyn's signatures from 1928 and 1929, she makes the loop on the y in Evelyn a backward looping one.

Evelyn may have distanced himself from his first wife in many ways. But there would always be a bit of Shevelyn in Evelyn.