(DUCKWORTH'S 1928-1936)

"What's become of Mr Waugh
Since he gave us all the slip,
Chose land-travel or the Law,
Boots and chest or pen and scrip',
Rather than pace up and down
Any longer London Town?"


What's Become of Waring is the name of the Anthony Powell novel we're about to sample, which is prefaced with a verse by Robert Browning much like the one above. "Waught's Become of Waugh!" is what the parrot inside my brain insists on squawking (sq-waugh-king). Let's see why.

By the time Anthony Powell managed to get his fifth pre-war novel published - the first not to be published by Duckworth, the firm he had slaved away for since leaving Oxford - it was about nothing less than working for Duckworth's. Let that be said up front.

Though in the novel the publishers are called Bernard Judkins and Hugh Judkins, these individuals represented Gerald Duckworth and Tom Balston. As you can see from their portraits they looked similar. However, Duckworth was born in 1870, Balston in 1883, so they were from different generations, with Waugh/Powell born in the early years of the 20th Century, a new generation entirely.

Right: Portrait of Thomas Balston by Mark Gertler, 1921

On the left, the staid, conservative owner; on the right, the younger guy hired to inject some modernity and oomph into the list. As Powell states in his novel: 'Hugh saw to it that Judkins and Judkins became a flourishing concern again.'

And one of the things Tom/Hugh did was to hire Tony Powell to bring in new blood, maybe some of the clever young men he'd been up at the University with. It was through Tony that Evelyn Waugh was commissioned to write a biography of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Duckworth's were lined up to publish
Decline and Fall, Waugh's brilliantly original first novel. But something went wrong, and Duckworth went on publishing Waugh's non-fiction, while his more stylish, original and far more lucrative novels, from Decline and Fall, through Vile Bodies, Black Mischief and A Handful of Dust, went to another firm.

What went wrong? Or, put it another way. "What's Become of Waugh?" These must have been the most repeated words that Anthony Powell heard all the time he worked there. For peanuts. Duckworth's was haunted by its financial difficulties, its deep (deep, deep) red bottom line. No wonder the presence/absence of its star author so badly tantalised the people at Duckworth.

Even in 2020, on the home page of its website, Duckworth has Evelyn Waugh in its list of top five published authors (Woolf, Lawrence, Belloc, Bainbridge and Waugh) since its birth in 1898. Which is a joke, as we'll see. Though in the end it is heroic, or not far off.

Time to quote from the Anthony Powell novel:

"Have you got anything good coming out soon?" she said. "I haven't read anything amusing for ages."

"Odds and ends. An attack on Theosophy. A book of Welsh proverbs with lino-cuts."

"A new T.T. Waring?"

"Yes, there's going to be a new T.T. Waring. About Tibet."


Actually, the Waugh travel books that Duckworth's published were about a Mediterranean cruise, a journey through East Africa, and a trip up the Amazon. But Tibet may have been scheduled at some stage. Though that sounds more like Robert Byron's bag. That other clever young man that Tony had met while up at the University. His name will crop up again, soon enough.

By chapter two of
What's Become of Waring, things have not moved on much. Which suits me:

"Anything good among the manuscripts?" Hugh said, altering his tone of voice with heavy insistence and pretending to be cheerful.
Evidently he had been thoroughly annoyed by Bernard but did not want to do more than mention what had happened.


"I wish the new T.T. Waring would come along. It is due any day now. We want something to buck things up."


Day-to-day life at 3 Henrietta Street. Tony Powell worked as dogsbody in reception, while on the first floor, the brains behind the business had offices of their own. Below, we see Gerald Duckworth on the left, counting his testicles (T + T = Two), and Tom Balston on the right, in a repressed rage, watching the senior partner counting his balls.

Left: Portrait of Gerald Duckworth by Harry Furniss. Right: Portrait of Thomas Balston by Mark Gertler.

Should the images not be of Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell? Well, we all know what they look like. And I'll get to them before the end.

On the next page of Waring we have:

On the way we talked of business, a subject never far from Hugh's mind. A couple of first novels had been failures. He said that he wanted to be cautious about fiction in the near future. He also sketched out a scheme for a series of modern travellers to be sold at four shillings. In making plans of this sort his energy was tremendous. He said:

"Of course it would be with an eye to T.T. Waring in the long run. The new one has got to be a real winner. I want to see his sales double."


Time to give due regard to this second portrait of Tom Balston cum Hugh Kingsmill. I mean the red-faced one. Note the aforementioned repressed rage. The resolve. The level-headedness. The T + T = Two-ness. He would need these qualities and more in the years to come.

Do you see how relentless the humour is in this scenario? If not now, you will do soon enough.
Waiting For Waring.

Still in chapter two of the Anthony Powell novel, following a

Several people began to tell Pemberthy about T.T. Waring, making it clear that African exile did not excuse ignorance of such an order. They were cut short by Hugh, who said:

"Perhaps as I am T.T. Waring's publisher I should explain who he is, since it seems to be necessary. And also what he stands for."

"I've already gathered that he is a sort of explorer and that he was chosen for the book of the something and that he is young and very modest," said Pemberthy, who seemed not so much nettled by everyone's efforts to put him right as overwhelmed by the sheer volume of words that assailed him. He added: "T.T. Waring sounds a sporty boy to me if the story about the priest's loin-cloth is true…"

"T.T. Waring", said Hugh, embarking on one of his favourite subjects, "is a challenge. I think he is symptomatic of something that is taking place in England today. You see, he belongs to the generation after the post-post-war generation."

Hugh stopped and cleared his throat. He looked round the room as if he had gone too far and expected to be contradicted. Mrs Cromwell helped him out.

"Oh, but he's such a Puck," she said. "He gets me with his colourful stories. I just can't resist that T.T. Waring manner. There's something so virile about him too. And then all that philosophy."


Hilarious. But would Waugh have been spoken of like this in the early 1930s? Of course, he would. Tony would have had to listen to far too much of it. After all, he was an aspiring author as well. I mean, he was an author who aspired to sell a few of his own books. He must have watched Evelyn's progress with awe and amazement. And he was there, right in the middle of that progress, every step of the way, as it were. Though having had to watch Waugh walk from 3 Henrietta Street to 11 Henrietta Street with the manuscript of
Decline and Fall must have felt a bit rich. Months earlier, Evelyn had read it aloud and Tony had laughed his head off. They'd both laughed their heads off, in the home of Waugh's father, at the antics of Paul Pennyfeather. And it was Waugh's father that was going to gain from the fact that Gerald Duckworth, being Evelyn Gardner's uncle, was going to insist that Evelyn Waugh tone down his outrageous novel if Duckworth's name was to appear on the cover and the spine. Don't worry, Gerald, that wouldn't happen. More tool you.

Still in chapter two:

All the same, T.T. Waring sold well when the going was good. He was compared with everyone who had ever written a successful travel book, Burton, Doughty, Hudson, and the rest of them, the accents of all of whom were certainly to be caught in his own works. He was the brightest jewel in Judkins and Judkins' crown, a diadem that Hugh, with some reason, had recently begun to regard as his own personal piece of regalia.


Having set the scene, let's pause. Let's take a step back from the actual text of
What's Become of Waring and examine the wider context of Powell, Duckworth and Waugh.


Powell was employed by Duckworth's from autumn 1926 for a probationary period of three years. He was paid a subsistence wage of £300 a year to be paid, in a decreasing ratio, by his father, Lieutenant Colonel Powell. Let's follow his progress from year to year. It would be a lost opportunity not to do so, as it brings so many things into juxtaposition.


In his first year, Tony introduced Evelyn Waugh to Tom Balston and the Rossetti commission was granted to take advantage of a Rossetti anniversary. Balston already knew Robert Byron through Harold Acton, another of the post-war Oxford generation, and he was commissioned to write a book about his forthcoming exploration of Mount Athos, an island covered in monasteries. "Keep it light," was Tom's dictat. And Robert's response may have been: "How about: 'an island run by monks for monks'."

Tony describes a party given by Balston at his flat in Artillery Mansions off Victoria Street. A party for the Sitwells really, but both Robert Byron and Evelyn Waugh were invited. Tony doesn't remember Evelyn's contribution to that evening. Waugh's diary entry of 29 November includes: '
On Sunday I went to the first night of the Sitwell but was bitterly disappointed and bored. There had been a Sitwell party at Balston's on the preceding Tuesday.' I don't think Evelyn attended. And so for the first time a fly on the wall might have heard the words: "What's become of Waugh?"

Tony recalls Robert Byron, at the end of the Sitwell party, taking a whooping great run at the ornate gates, and letting himself out of Artillery Mansions by climbing over the big gate instead of using the little gate inset. Perhaps he had been bored by the party, after all the three Sitwells were largely of Tom Balston's generation, not his. That's to say Edith Sitwell (born 1887), Osbert Sitwell (born 1892) and Sacheverell Sitwell (born1897). Known to Robert and Evelyn as Shitwell, Shitwell and Shitwell? Who knows.

Robert's action might have reminded Tony of Oxford days, when Evelyn had once let himself out of a room in Balliol by climbing down a rope held by Patrick Balfour with Tony in attendance. It also underscores that at this stage in their life, Waugh and Byron were bold and brash, while Tony stuck to the shadows. And Fortune, let it be remembered, favours the bold. Up to a point.


In April, Waugh's
Rossetti appeared in published book form while he was living at the Barley Mow in Dorset finishing off Decline and Fall. It was respectfully reviewed, except by Peter Quennell, who made an idiot of himself by misjudging the situation. What could have been more obvious than that he should have used his position to promote his talented Oxford contemporary.


If I was to turn over the page, I would see the printed dedication 'TO EVELYN GARDNER' on the recto. Turning over a few more pages, it’s interesting to compare the beginning of Waugh's first book to the beginning of a book on the same subject published by H.C. Marillier in 1899:

H. C. Marillier:
‘Dante Gabriel, or to give him his full christening name, Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, was born on May 12th, 1828, at no. 38, Charlotte Street, Portland Place, and was the second of four children, all born in successive years.’

Evelyn Waugh:
‘Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, as he was christened – Dante Gabriel, as he afterwards chose to be called – was born on May 12th, 1828, at No. 38 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, the second of four children born in successive years.’

At first I thought this was a joke. Master stylist of the 20th Century all but copies the opening of a previous biographer’s book. Then I decided it was just Waugh being lazy.

Let's return to
What's Become of Waring for a minute. Much to the distress of Hugh Judkins, it is reported that the mysterious T.T. Waring has died. Tony Powell has some fun setting up who is going to write a biography of Judkins' star author, before deciding on a man called Hudson who hasn't had anything printed before. But as soon as Hudson begins his research, he realises that T.T. Waring has cribbed much of his first book from an earlier, obscure author.

"I had T.T. Waring's book with me. I compared the two passages, What do you think?"

"How should I know?"

Hudson again began to drum on the wall. He said: 'The fact is, chunks of this book were incorporated almost bodily into the T.T. Waring."

"What was the book called?"

"Something non-committal, like A Traveller in Ceylon or Memoirs of a Journey in Ceylon.

"So he added plagiarism to his other eccentricities?"

"Of course I don't mean to say the book was reproduced word for word. On the contrary, all the interesting parts, the thoughts on life, and so on, are all T.T.'s. And the descriptions of scenery are put into finer words and better English. But the places dealt with are the same. Some of the incidents are very similar."


This reminds me of what I discovered about Waugh's
Rossetti when I studied it. Chapter three of Rossetti is about 19,000 words and takes up 48 pages of the 220-page printed book. As much as 35% of the chapter consists of direct quotation. There are 11 people quoted. Ruskin alone writes almost 10% of the chapter (quotes from his published letters to Rossetti) and Ford Madox Brown writes another 10% (quotes from his published diary). Half a page is taken from Ancient Lights, by Ford Madox Hueffer. The following page contains exactly two words written by Evelyn Waugh. And these are: 'And another:'


What do all the quotes imply? For a start, they mean that at this stage Evelyn didn’t see himself principally as a writer. Rather, he saw himself as a historian (which he missed the opportunity to be when an undergrad), a craftsman (piecing together a book rather than writing it) and, potentially at least, a painter (he goes into Rossetti’s techniques in some detail). Indeed, Evelyn seemed to find the writing side of things both hard work and tedious.

In chapter four, one quote, from Treffry Dunn, goes on for four-and-a-half pages. Four and a half pages! So let's go back to
What's Become of Waring and see what Tony has to say:

"You see it is all very well that T.T. Waring's first book should be nothing but a crib of another book on Ceylon, written sixty years ago. That might be laughed off. But now that it turns out that he copied all his stuff about Arabia from a book in French, things are pretty serious."

"You mean all his books were produced that way?"

"It looks damn like it."


Of course, all Waugh's books were not produced that way. After
Rossetti, Waugh found his own voice. But it's observant of Anthony Powell to have noticed what he seems to have about Waugh's first book.

In the summer of 1928,
The Station by Robert Byron came out. Four months earlier, Byron had delivered the manuscript about his trip to Mount Athos. The work was much too serious in places for Tom Balston, despite his stern warnings, and there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between author and publisher. But all was well, in the end, though Byron dedicated a copy of The Station: 'To Tony, with bitter remorse for his sufferings, Robert.'


The Station might have been called The College. As the monasteries of Mount Athos are a world heritage site not that different from the colleges of Oxford. Surely the ideal travel book for a man just down from Merton (twinned with the above-pictured Simopetra?). Actually, how did Byron get away with such an obscure title about such a vivid place?

Here is a plate from the book. Can you distinguish the smiles of the monks from the focus of the Oxford man? The maintenance of culture, indeed.


With these two exciting books in the bag, maybe over-confidence was part of the reason that Duckworth missed out on
Decline and Fall. Although Gerald Duckworth protested against the sexual innuendo in Decline and Fall, another reason it was turned down was that Gerald Duckworth was Evelyn Gardner's uncle, and the family didn't approve of her marriage to Waugh that summer. It's possible that Tom Balston didn't put up too much of a fight to keep Waugh's first novel, because of the real risk of libel claims as the manuscript stood. Anyway, Waugh took the manuscript a few doors down the street to number 11. Chapman and Hall asked him to make a lot of changes as well, but this time the author agreed to do so. And so, on September 18, it came out with a cover designed by Evelyn himself:


Paul Pennyfeather: from de-bagged student to groom-left-waiting to prisoner with privileges to student of Theology. Not to mention his time as a teacher of unteachable boys with untouchable Grimes. The book is a joy to read from PP's start to PP's finish. That's to say, the manifest pleasure of writing it feeds straight through to the reader, in a way that reminds me of Irvine Welsh at his best. No-where more so than in the frontispiece. What else might the loop-de-looping plane be writing in the sky? 'Balston' or 'Duckworth'? The scenario is so exuberant-cum-ironic that any name would have worked.


'The book was an unparallelled success among the lower orders.' Surely that remained to be seen.

On October 4, 1928, Tony Powell went to the Waughs' flat in Canonbury Square, North London, for lunch. Well, why not? It wasn't Tony's fault that Duckworth's had turned down the chance to publish the novel. Evelyn proved as much by writing in a copy of the book:
'For Tony who rescued the author from worse than death', meaning his teaching career. Waugh records that they gossiped about the Sitwells.

Also in the first week of October, the Waughs threw a dinner party to which Tom Balston was invited. Would that have been to tease Balston about his loss of the novel? On Friday Oct 12, sales for the week were 157, making a total of 1,093 since September 18. In the week ending Oct 19, sales were 827, which meant the second impression had 'gone to bed'. At that time, each impression would be of two- or three-thousand copies. A third impression was made from the plates in December. Meanwhile,
Rossetti was still to sell out its first edition for Duckworth.

I wonder if Tom Balston was given a copy of the Chapman and Hall production. If so, it might have read
'To Tom, who might come to regret not having stood up to his pre-pre-war partner.'


The main event of the year happened in autumn. It was the end of Tony's probationary period, time for his father to honour his word and make a capital investment in Duckworth's. This he refused to do. Hilary Spurling paints the scene:

'In the event no money was forthcoming, and no explanation was given either. Perhaps the wreckage of his own career made Tony's father feel he had a right to ruin his son's too, or perhaps he simply could not bring himself to offer a leg-up to a former subordinate [Balston and Powell senior had been in the army together]. This was a completely unexpected blow from Duckworths' point of view. When an incredulous Balston finally grasped the trick that had been played on him, there was a showdown in Henrietta Street that ended with the chief executive pursuing his old commanding officer out into the road and along the pavements as far as Saint Martin in the Fields, where the two shouted abuse at one another across Trafalgar Square.'

I suspect there is a certain amount of hyperbole in that description. Nevertheless, I'm adding a map showing Powell senior's and Balston's route from number 3 Henrietta Street (red pin), in the middle of Covent Garden, to Trafalgar Square (bottom left).


Commandeer a plane, Tom. Have it loop-de-loop above Nelson's Column writing the word 'Bastard' in the sky for everyone to read.

Evelyn Waugh, talking to his editor at the window of number 11 Henrietta Street, a glass of champagne in hand, might have seen the pair walk past, and observed that Balston was enraged. And he might have said:

"It's really Two-Balls he's mad with. The fact that I'm standing here with you is the real disaster for poor Tom and his firm's prospects."

Portrait of Thomas Balston by Mark Gertler.


Vile Bodies came out in January, 1930. Again Evelyn was responsible for the cover and the frontispiece.


It was a miracle the novel came out at all, what with She-Evelyn leaving Waugh in the middle of its composition. But Waugh incorporated that event into the story and, chapter-by-heartbroken-chapter, Evelyn pushed through to the end.

The publishing sensation of many a year, as far as Chapman and Hall was concerned. And certainly of January and February, 1930. Let me put it this way:


Duckworth's and Tony had come to an arrangement that they pay his whole wage, subsistence though that was. By this time he was writing Afternoon Men in his spare time.

Meanwhile, Evelyn Waugh was under contract to write a travel book for Duckworth concerning his cruise of the Mediterranean, which had been a dreadful experience as she-Evelyn had been so ill. However, thanks to the hospitality of Diana and Bryan Guinness, he managed to get down the words in the early months of 1930. So that the book duly appeared in September.


Note the prominence of the Port Said label. Due to she-Evelyn's illness, the couple spent a month there, and so Port Said has many more pages written about it than the likes of Venice. Quite a funny book in places.

A special first edition of 110 copies were printed, each containing a page from the manuscript glued into the book.


Perhaps this was to prove to Tony that Evelyn had actually written this one, and not just cut out sections of other people's books.

As I say, quite funny in places.


Afternoon Men was published by Duckworth in the spring. Tony was able to choose his own cover artist and to oversee the book's production values. If he didn't do so, who would?

Cover art by Misha Black.

It was reprinted once and sold about 3,000 copies in all. A respectable showing for a first novel. Its protagonist is called Atwater, and, as I argue in another essay, Evelyn used the idea of an afternoon man called Atwater later in the decade in order to reply to the Waugh thrust of Powell's book.


In November, Remote People was published by Duckworth's, Waugh's second travel book with them. But look at the cover! Was no-one responsible for selling this product to the public? How can its plainness be reconciled to the ambition of the Afternoon Men cover? Or was it assumed that the name 'Evelyn Waugh' in itself would sell a book following the success of Vile Bodies? Well, no, Vile Bodies isn't even mentioned on the cover, the remaindered Labels is.

It states that the book is illustrated, but this is so only in the most desultory way. Evelyn didn't take any good pics when he was travelling (why not?) and didn't make any drawings until he composed his next novel, Black Mischief, which would be published by Chapman and Hall the following year.

Remote People received respectful reviews and was on the bestseller lists for one week. It was reprinted in the month of publication, but only once. Maybe this quote from Frank Swinnerton in the Evening News was placed in the big, empty, green space in the bottom half of the reprinted dustcover: 'A very good book indeed... An account of the author's experiences in Africa where he went to see the Emperor of Abyssinia crowned... It is certainly the best travel book I have read for years.' Though that quote is distressingly flat. And it is a well known fact that zero pizzaz sells zilch books.

But wait. Another string to Duckworth's blow. A brainwave of Tom Balston's was to market reprints as 'Duckworth's Georgian Library'. Rossetti was reprinted under that heading in order to seduce readers impressed by
Remote People.


The book contains a list of books in Duckworth's Georgian Library. This is revealing. Two of the first four titles are by bright young things, Evelyn Waugh and Robert Byron. The other two by authors a little older but with some credibility to being 'cutting edge'. Clearly, all Tom Balston choices.


However, the four titles in preparation look like duds. Second books by Sacheverell Sitwell and Hugh Kinsgsmill (rather than Waugh and Byron). And two books by older authors, part of a previous generation, already heading for irrelevance. Brigadier-General Colin R. Ballard - a post-war author? Either Duckworth was getting involved or Balston was losing his nerve.

On reflection, I blame Gerald Duckworth for diluting what started off as an impressive initiative. And I bet Tom Balston and Tony Powell did too. T + T = Tom + Tony.


What's Become of Byron? He wouldn't be published by Duckworth's again. His follow-up book to
The Station was The Byzantine Achievement. Balston had wanted it to be lighter and more popular, inciting the author both to fury (which Robert did well) and to take his book elsewhere. The next book First Russia, Then Tibet was lost in a two-house auction. Indeed, even The Station was never genuinely available as a 'Duckworth's Georgian Classic', as the first edition never sold out. Or at least it didn't sell out by much, and there was no sign that a reprint would sell many copies. In subsequent lists, book number 3 was simply missed out, the list going straight from 2 to 4.

Times were tough at 3 Henrietta Street. Hilary Spurling explains how the directors took a 50% cut in their salary and Tony Powell was put on a new contract whereby his wages were reduced to £200
a week, for which he had to work mornings only. Balston accused Tony of putting more energy into his writing career than his publishing one. Indeed, the main reason that Tony stayed on may have been to see his own second novel through the publishing process. He stuck to the same cover artist for Venusberg, which appeared in the autumn.

Cover art by Misha Black.

Also out in the autumn was Black Mischief. Not under the Duckworth imprint, of course. After all, it was the new, super-smart Evelyn Waugh novel!


Did this book sell well? If you turn over and think about it for a second, you'll get the answer:


Luckily, Duckworth still had its 'Duckworth Georgian Library' going strong. In 1932,
Labels was reprinted as part of the collection:


At this time, the list was gloriously topped and tailed by the name 'Evelyn Waugh'. Alas this doesn't hide the conservatism that dominates the 1932 additions.


Note the absence of book number 3. Note further the presence of the name Sitwell on the list four times. 'Duckworth's Sitwell Library', for goodness sake. And note the name Moray McLaren. Looks promising? He was of the Waugh/Powell/Byron generation, but he was also a Conservative and a Roman Catholic. And his idea of 'Return to Scotland' - as understood by this member of the Irvine Welsh generation - seems like a voice from ancient times. "Drivel, drivel, Bonny Prince Drivel."


I apologise to the reader for going through this story year by year. However, it's necessary to get an idea of exactly where Anthony Powell was when he sat down to write
What Became of Waring in 1938. So we're getting there, but we're not quite there yet. However, I will inject a scene of some comic relief at this point.

Gerald Duckworth arrived in the office early, and it looked as if he meant business:

Portrait of Gerald Duckworth by Harry Furniss

A note was delivered to Tony which may have looked something like this:

T.T. Waringh

Tony translated this hurried scribble as: 'Tony, Tom. Waugh.' And he interpreted it as. 'Tony, Tom. How do we make serious money from our close association with Evelyn Waugh?'

Between them, the directors and Tony put together the 'Great Lives' series that Duckworth would embark on. Concise books about well known figures that members of the public were perpetually curious about. These would be written by contemporary authors (Tony's job may have been to see if Evelyn Waugh would lead the way). But basically the series was to be a cheap edition. The hope was that it would sell in large numbers. Tony's innermost thought: 'Was that not always the futile hope?'

In one of his novels, Powell satirises the series as 'God's Failures'. Though perhaps 'God's Losers' would have been more in the alphabetic spirit of 'Georgian Library' and 'Great Lives'.

Tony was still holding on in there. Partly because of his own novels, the third of which came out in October.

Cover art by Misha Black.

I think it came as a surprise to Tony that Evelyn mentioned his work in an article for Harper's Bazaar that was supposed to introduce writers and artists to look out for. He certainly included it in his memoirs that came out much later. Waugh's words were: ‘I cannot name a single new painter or writer of any real promise who has emerged, or any established one who has added substantially to our debt to him. Except for Mr Anthony Powell whose ‘From a View to a Death’ delighted me, I cannot name any novelist who is really worth watching.’

: "What's become of Waugh?"

Tony: "He's become human. Almost human."


In February, Waugh wrote to his agent saying that he wanted to write a 'Great Life' of Gregory the Great when he was finished his current project.
'Perhaps you'd see what Balston will pay.' I don't think Evelyn realised that the point of the Great Lives series was to make money for Duckworth's, not its authors. Anyway, nothing came of it.

Following his trip to British Guiana that began in October 1932, Waugh had now written up his journey in Amazonia.
Ninety-two Days (a shambolic ramble) was published in April. During this journey, Evelyn had remembered to take photos, but the vast majority of them were unpublishable. The book contains 24 photographs, but the only good one, in my opinion, is the one that adorns the cover and doubles up as the frontispiece. And it was taken by a Jesuit priest who Evelyn had handed the camera to.


The back of the dust-cover was an opportunity to plug the three Waugh titles that were now part of Duckworth's Georgian Library. Though the phrase 'Cheap Edition' lets it down.


Here are these three titles, books I've managed to collect over the years. No longer 'cheap' editions, but vintage books nearly a hundred years old.


I wonder if there was certain to-ing and fro-ing of letters between Waugh and Duckworth over Ninety-two Days. It is not a particularly literary book. To see its qualities, one has to dip out of the pedestrian text and realise what was happening to an individual human being. The pain. The fear. The boredom. No wonder Evelyn had blasted it out at Diana Cooper's house in Bognor Regis, then turned to the writing of his fourth novel.

Ninety-two Days sell well? No, not really, despite fairly good reviews. Duckworth would be hoping for more sales of the travel book when the related novel was published later in the year, albeit that would be by Chapman and Hall.

But before that happened, there was an explosion at Duckworth. A routine board meeting on 18 August, 1934, erupted without warning. 'All Gerald Duckworth's pent-up rage over the years on the subject of the Sitwells, Waugh, Beaton, other modern abominations forced on him by Balston, broke out; while, at the same instant, Balston gave voice to his equally powerful resentment of what he had long regarded as Gerald Duckworth's obstruction and inertia.'


The upshot was that Balston walked out, leaving the firm for good the same day.

Gerald Duckworth sank back into his customary torpor. Leaving Tony Powell, at 28-years-old, in Hilary Spurling's words:
'to take over editorial control of a broken-backed and much shrunken concern rapidly returning to the state of ossified conservatism Balston had been hired thirteen years earlier to remedy'.

Osbert Sitwell promptly moved to Macmillan. His brother had already decamped. And Edith wrote that Balston's resignation marked '
one of the worst days in our lives'.

Tom Balston of Duckworth,
Arrived at Henrietta Street, 1921.
Left Henrietta Street, 1934.

If there had been complaints from Duckworth about Ninety-Two Days, that might have fed into Evelyn's naming of the protagonist in A Handful of Dust: Tony Last. The man who loses his wife, his house and his sanity before the end of the novel.

Tom: "He's used your name, Tony!"

Tony: "And he's used yours, Tom. Only he's taken the n.o.b. out of Balston and jumbled up the a.l.s.t."

Did the book sell? It sold like hot cakes because it is so well written and it strikes to the heart of the author's life. Plus it's layered. In the end it's almost as much about publishing in London as it is about exploring the Amazon rainforest. Ot at least it seems that way to me right at this moment.



Waugh's next book was
Edmund Campion. As a non-fiction title, one might have expected this to be published by Duckworth. But he couldn't have been under contract to Duckworth, and with the much respected - and only intermittently mocked - Tom Balston gone, Evelyn wasn't going to entrust this important (to its author) book to Gerald Duckworth, the dimmest of men.

Instead it went to Longman's, appeared in September of 1935, and won the Hawthornden Prize for Evelyn Waugh, perhaps the major literary prize of the era.

Not a good year for Duckworth. Their first impression of
Ninety-two Days refused to sell, despite the success of A Handful of Dust. That's what I deduce by the fact that three out of seven of the edition that are presently for sale on Abebooks have had 'Boots Booklovers Library' stickers on them. Boots bought remaindered stock from publishers, ripped the precious dust-jackets off them, and affixed a dreadful label to the bottom of the front cover before selling them on the cheap.

These stickers are impossible to remove. The images below show what happens when different methods of removal are tried. I think the book on the right has been treated with a milky paste only obtainable from crushing a bean found only in the depths of theAmazon rain forest.


By the way, when I say 'Boots', I mean the national chain of High Street stores, not Cyril Connolly, editor of Horizon, author of Enemies of Promise, who treated books with respect. He was much, much harder on pork pies though.


In January, Tony's fourth novel was published by Duckworth.
Same impressive cover art concept, but who cared?

Cover art by Misha Black.

That's the book which took a close look at the Heygates' marriage. John Heygate being the man who went off with Mrs Evelyn Waugh when the author was half-way through Vile Bodies. More than that, it's the book where the Heygate character is given the name 'Maltravers', which was Evelyn Waugh's name for Paul Pennyfeather's rival for Margot Beste-Chetwynd's hand in Decline and Fall. What was going on? Well, why shouldn't Tony pay a compliment to the author who had stood up for his generally ignored fourth novel?

Tony had had enough of Duckworth's by this time. He was also engaged to be married, to Violet Pakenham, sister of Pansy Pakenham who had been Evelyn Gardner's best friend and had spent several happy months with the Evelyns in Dorset, while Waugh had been writing Decline and Fall. Maybe that gave Tony the confidence to put in his resignation in August, 1936, which Gerald Duckworth accepted with, apparently, a complete lack of interest.


Now we can get back to
What's Become of Waring. Though it took Anthony Powell a year or two to get himself sorted. For six months he wrote film scripts for Warner Brothers. After that he went to Los Angeles with his new wife, Violet, again hoping to work on scripts for the film industry. Though this paid quite well, it proved to be a dead end, and they came back to London where Tony descended into depression. He was slowly coming out of this when Gerald Duckworth died an alcohol-related death in September of 1937. This cleared the way for what he'd had in mind for years - a book about his dire time in the publishing industry.

What's Become of Waring was written, he sent the manuscript to Tom Balston, by whom he could not afford to be sued re the Hugh Judkins character. Balston wrote Tony a letter that Hilary Spurling describes as 'ominous', but then went back to the manuscript and changed his mind. No-one could possibly think that Balston was the source behind Hugh Judkins, so Tony could go ahead! In relief, he offered the book to Duckworth, but they would only offer a niggardly sum. In the end it was Cassel's who said they would pay the most, so the novel went to them and came out in March 1939. Not good timing. Not a single book with a dustcover seems to survive, certainly none are for sale on abehbooks just now. Most of the stock was destroyed in the bombing of London.But it was reprinted long after WW2, once Tony became known as the author of 'A Dance to the Music of Time'.

Part one of this essay suggests that Tony's take on the London publishing world was dominated by the looming existence of T.T. Waring, mysterious writer of books that sold in large numbers. How could Anthony Powell not be interested in the mystique of Evelyn Waugh, given his job, his firm's difficulties in finding authors that they could sell. And, of course, there is the fact that Tony HAD discovered Waugh and brought him to Duckworth's, only for Duckworth's to drive him off by trying to emasculate his glorious manuscript. Tony's novels didn't sell. Waugh's non-fiction didn't sell. Waugh's fiction sold. BUT THAT DIDN'T DO TONY ANY GOOD!

So that's what seems to be behind the first section of the book, and all its nods to T.T. Waring and his transcendent career. Then on page 38, the news announces. 'FAMOUS TRAVELLER DIES SUDDENLY'. And the book suddenly moves into another phase. Time to make use of the Penguin version of the book, printed in 1962, when, as I said, Powell's 'Dance' made a reprint viable.


Now, bear with me… T.T. Waring is Judkins and Judkins major asset. There will be no more books from him, but what about a book
about him. A biography no less. Hugh Judkins advocates one of the firm's authors (based on Godfrey Winn at Duckworth). And Bernard Judkins advocates another of the firm's authors (an ancient loser). As the story unfolds, two more candidates present themselves, Roberta Payne, who was engaged to T.T. Waring, whom she knew in Toulon under the name of 'Robinson'. And Captain Hudson, who was not a published writer but who was an admirer of all T.T. Waring's books and somehow attracts the approval of the book's narrator.

The way things shake out, Hudson is given the job, and will be able to interview Payne about her engagement to T.T. Waring. Soon the narrator and Hudson find themselves in Toulon, following up clues to Waring's secret life.

This is where there is another vital, but previously overlooked - as far as I can make out - connection with Evelyn Waugh. Anthony Powell's knowledge of Toulon came from summer holidays from Duckworth's in 1930 and 1931. He was there with a group of young friends. It so happens that Waugh was holidaying in the south of France these two summers as well. In 1930, Waugh spent a few days with his brother, Alec Waugh, in Villefranche, before going on to Saint Tropez for a two-week dalliance with Audrey Lucas, who had always fancied Evelyn. (All the more so, now that by summer of 1930 he was the bestselling author of
Vile Bodies and could afford to treat her to meals in restaurants every night.) Glory days, Evelyn. And glorious nights on the French Riviera, one assumes.

Below is the man of mystery, centre, call him Evelyn Waugh or T.T. Waring, boarding a plane
en route to Villefranche in 1930.


Roberta Payne has been said to be based on Inez Holden, who Evelyn also knew back then. But why not based on Audrey Lucas? Lucas, like Payne, was a writer, and got stuck into the literary world and the men who ran it.

Below is Evelyn Waugh again, standing with his brother Alex, in the harbour at Villefranche. Or is it Captain Hudson (said to look ridiculously English) having accidentally met T.T. Waring (who had not died in an accident after all, we learn) aka Mr Robinson real name Alec Pimley, who Hudson knew at school, and who is the brother of the woman Hudson was engaged to at the beginning of the book.


Now Tony didn't know Evelyn at school. But they did go back along way, to drunken parties at university.

What's Become of Waring, Hudson confronts Pimley with his bogus writing career. He asks why Waring staged his own disappearance, and is told that it was because he was now married to a rich woman, and so didn't need the money from any more books. He'd decided it was better to cut and run before he was exposed as a fraud.

I can imagine Tony Powell on holiday in the summer of 1930, in Toulon, thinking negative thoughts about Evelyn Waugh. Waugh had slipped from Duckworth's grasp and was now living in very different circles. He had once been a delightfully funny undergraduate, and then a hilariously funny first-time novelist, but was now hob-sobbing with the jet-set. He liked to associate with rich, upper class people and Tony simply wasn't coming across him any more. Powell was as poor as a church mouse, while Waugh was a literary lion, showered with money, fame, sex…

Below is a map of the French Riviera. I've marked Villefranche, where Evelyn enjoyed a brotherly reunion with Alex. Moving towards Marseille (near left edge of map), there is Saint Tropez, where Evelyn enjoyed expensive orgasms (presumably) with Audrey. Then further west still, Toulon, where Tony lived, hearing all sorts of rumours about Evelyn, bestselling non-Duckworth author and sperm-God.


As I say, Powell and Waugh were also both in the south of France in 1931, adding to the mystery of it all. Evelyn wrote an intriguing letter to fellow author Henry Yorke (Anthony Powell's best friend at Eton). It was written from the Welcome Hotel in Villefranche sur Mer, and states:

'I look forward to your coming to St. Tropez… The district is full of chums, Connolly, Aldous H., Willy Maugham, Nina, Eddie S-West, Alex Waugh, etc. I meant to do work but it is all very gay and we bathe a lot and get sleepy.'

No mention of Tony in the list of chums. Instead it's the famously cultivated. The letter goes on:

'An awful man called Keith Winter has arrived. Also Godfrey Wynne and Tennyson Jesse - too literary by half.'

Now Godfrey Winn was one of Duckworth's authors. And he dedicated a book to Tony. In
What's Become of Waring, according to Hilary Spurling, he is the original for Shirley Handsworth, the Judkins and Judkins author that Hugh suggests to the narrator might write the biography of T.T. Waring. Hugh goes on to say:

"I know he has never tackled anything quite like this before. But I believe he would do it well. After all, his sales advance steadily."

"It's hardly a T.T. Waring public, is it? We advertise T.T. Waring as a writer for Men."

"All the more reason for getting him on the women's library lists. T.T. is read by a lot of women too. That frontispiece of him in a turban - the silverpoint from a photograph that we collotyped - brought in appreciatory letters from women all over the country. And the colonies too."


Thinking about the picture below were we Tony?


It has to be said that the second half of
What's Become of Waring focuses on the efforts and personality of Captain Hudson. T.T. Waring may haunt the book, but its soul is this reserved, repressed, decent Englishman, who splits his time between the army and his amateur writing. I feel that Tony Powell is thinking of himself here, even though he already appears in the form of the first-person narrator who works for the publishing firm. The Captain's humble efforts with the pen, and his failure to understand the hearts of the two women he gets involved with, seem to reflect Powell's unhappy experiences of the time.

So, in the end, after trying out different potential biographers, Powell settled for himself. But Tony was writing about someone he didn't really know. Certainly not the man who actually had travelled to the middle of Africa and South America. Those journeys must have been beyond Powell's comprehension. For hadn't Tony been confined to the premises of Duckworth's, notwithstanding holidays in the South of France? Powell had lived the life of a London publishing dogsbody. So how could he understand Waugh's unstoppable globetrotting and bookselling?

I would like to have been around at the time, and to have been considered for the job of Waugh's biographer. How would I have gone about it? By pushing all thought of Waugh as fraudulent traveller and writer, and trying my best to follow in his footsteps. To sail to Djibouti and take the train all the way up the line to Addis Ababa, and to look out the little pension run by the German couple that features in
Waugh in Abyssinia and Scoop. That would have been one goal. And to make my way up the Amazon to the humble houses of Father Mather and Mister Christie. And when I got there I would say the magic words "Evelyn Waugh" and I would record as faithfully as I could the heartfelt responses they invoked. What an odd, brave, determined, curious, inflexible, counter-intuitive traveller Waugh was. I bet the current owner of Mr Christie's house has someone reading to him the complete works of Evelyn Waugh, rather than Charles Dickens.


Evelyn published one more book with Duckworth's, but not until 1946 when Tony Powell, Tom Balston and Gerald Duckworth were long gone. It was a retrospective:


The frontispiece is a painting by Henry Lamb. Henry and his partner, Pansy Pakenham, made a foursome with Evelyn Waugh and Evelyn Gardner back in 1928, when Waugh was a happy man, writing
Decline and Fall.

By 1934, when Lamb painted Anthony Powell's portrait, the foursome was Henry, Pansy, Tony and Violet. Pansy and Violet being sisters. It's just a pity that the six of them couldn't have been friends, as that would surely have been a productive grouping. All six were talented, though in the real world it was the men who were enabled (by society) to make careers out of their talents.

Actually, when you consider these portraits, it's obvious who the unstoppable one was. The man who set his mind to something and wouldn't stop until he'd achieved it, drunk or sober.

Henry Lamb portraits of Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell. Thanks to the Estate of Henry Lamb (Henrietta Phipps) for allowing me to reproduce the painting of EW in the Appledore chapter of this website. I hope the estate will exercise forbearance in respect of the AP painting as well.

While Tony was all smoke and mirrors. He would bend the way the wind blew, but that is often what you must do if you are going to make headway in an unfriendly environment. Waugh was the man of the thirties. Tony's day would not begin until 1952, but would last twenty-five years, by which time Evelyn was long dead. Though to be fair, both are dancing still, dancing between the covers of their multifarious books.

A few quotes from the preface of
When the Going was Good:

'The following pages are all that I wish to preserve of the four travel books I wrote between the years of 1929 and 1935: Labels, Remote People, Ninety-two Days and (a title not of my own choosing) Waugh in Abyssinia. These books have now been out of print for some time and will not be reissued. The first three were published by Duckworth & Co. The fourth by Longmans, Green & Co.'

The publication was shortly after Brideshead Revisited. Trying to take advantage of the bestselling novel, as in the good old days.

'From 1928 until 1937 I had no fixed home and no possessions which would not conveniently go on a porter's barrow. I travelled continuously in England and abroad. These four books, here in fragments reprinted, were the record of certain journeys, chosen for no better reason than that I needed money at the time of their completion; they were pedestrian, day-to-day accounts of things seen and people met, interspersed with commonplace information and some rather callow comments. In cutting them to their present shape, I have sought to leave a purely personal narrative in the hope that there still lingers round it some trace of vernal scent.'

Ah, spring! But I wonder what Tony would think of the 'pedestrian' and 'commonplace' remarks? No more than the truth? Let's imagine something special to round things off for Duckworth:


Back to the preface of
When the Going Was Good:

'My own travelling days are over, and I do not expect to see many travel books in the near future. When I was a reviewer, they used, I remember, to appear in batches of four or five a week, cream-full of charm and wit and enlarged Leica snapshots. There is no room for tourists in a world of 'displaced persons'. Never again, I suppose, shall we land on foreign soil with letter of credit and passport (itself the first faint shadow of the great cloud that envelops us) and feel the world wide open before us.'

That is good stuff. I suspect it was written in the morning.

'Perhaps it is a good thing for English literature. In two generations the air will be fresher and we may again breed great travellers like Burton and Doughty. I never aspired to being a great traveller. I was simply a young man, typical of my age; we travelled as a matter course. I rejoice that I went when the going was good.'

And so I turn to my library. Or to be more exact 'Duckworth's Evelyn Waugh Library'. Three Georgians and two first editions. From left to right,
Rossetti, Labels, Remote People, Ninety-Two Days, When the Going Was Good. It wasn't cheap to put this together. The last piece in the collection, bought earlier this week, was the blue-covered Ninety-two days, which cost £25. The remains of the Boots' sticker appals me, but then it is authentic and does help tell the story of a publisher's failure that is the dark underside of Evelyn Waugh's success as a writer in the 1930s.


These books also form part of my 'Duckworth's Evelyn Waugh Travelling Library'. In order to make my travelling library work when I'm on the move, it has to be mobile, so the books are twinned with plastic modules that are unbreakable and pack neatly together. However, it's not that the modules fit one inside the other, like Russian dolls. No, that would be too easy.


But it means that when I finally make it to Boa Vista, the Holy Grail of E.W. travels, and I step foot inside the Evelyn Waugh Drinking Emporium, watched by Indians who sit slumped in the doorways of their hovels, too enervated to move, I will have something to give the Emporium's owner in return for the sort of piss-weak, quasi-lager that, I know, is the only alcohol that has ever been on offer there.

Surrounded by flies, bitten by flies, reduced nearly to tears by flies, I will sip from the depressing liquid. And I will be able to say to Tony, Tom and myself with absolute authority,
THIS is what's become of Waring.