PRESS RELEASE: From Sebastian Ryder of Harbour Books


Dear Friends of Evelyn Waugh,

On May 12, 2014,
Evelyn! will be published by Harbour Books.

evelyn! final cover - Version 2

Essentially, the book is a road-trip taken by Duncan McLaren and his partner, Kate Clayton, packed with their banter, literary analysis, original research. Stuffed with Evelyn Waugh's pubs and his humour, contemporary and historical pics, gender politics, and more.

Already it has been made
'Book of the Week' by the Daily Mail. Having said that, anything about Evelyn Waugh is made book of the week by the Daily Mail.

Evelyn Waugh has long been a favourite writer of the sharpest comedians:
Alexi Sayle has said that 'The Sword of Honour' trilogy would be his specialist subject on Mastermind. Stephen Fry directed a film version of Vile Bodies called Bright Young Things. Russell Brand has said that watching a DVD box set of Brideshead Revisited helped him kick a drugs habit. Russell Kane won Celebrity Mastermind answering questions on 'The Life and Novels of Evelyn Waugh'. Eddie Izzard has a collection of signed first editions of Waugh, the inscriptions in which have been altered to read 'Evelyn Waugh loves Eddie Izzard'. David Mitchell, on Desert Island Discs, said that Decline and Fall would be the novel he would choose to be marooned on the desert island with. Perhaps that would be the audio version of Decline and Fall, read by Rik Mayall, who pronounces the glamorous and outrageous Margot Beste-Chetwynde's surname as 'Beast-Cheating'. Frankie Boyle is so fond of Waugh's work that he tells his audiences that he has vomited with laughter over the pages of Vile Bodies, and shat himself on multiple occasions while reading The Loved One.

To mark the book's publication, there will be a launch event held at a pub that the young Evelyn Waugh was associated with. Evelyn's favourites, champagne and oysters, will be served. One of the above comedians (not Rik, alas) will introduce Duncan and give a personal take on
Evelyn! The list of potential venues is as follows:

1) The Old Bull and Bush, Hampstead.
2) The Crown, Oxford.
3) The Fair View Inn, Llandullas
4) The Bell, Aston Clinton.
5) The Barley Mow, Dorset.
6) The Abingdon Arms, Beckley.
7) The Royal George, Appledore.

Details of the historical links of these pubs to Evelyn Waugh can be found in the attachment at the foot of this press release.

To be advised of the actual venue, time and comedian, please register an interest and you will be contacted the day before the launch.

Hope you can make it!

Sebastian Ryder,
Harbour Books

evelyn! final cover



(where you might still launch a book)

The Old Bull and Bush is close to where Evelyn was brought up in a house called Underhill on the outskirts of Golders Green. Waugh occasionally mentions the pub in his diaries. 14 September 1925: ‘I went with Alastair to Mass at a church in Hampstead – very ugly – and drank with him at the Bull and Bush at fairly frequent intervals during the day.’ That summer, a scene in the Catholic Church-bating, sexually teasing film The Scarlet Woman - scripted by Waugh - was filmed on its premises.

The Crown, Oxford, can be found in a lane not far from glorious Christ Church College. In ‘The Balance’, an early Evelyn Waugh story published by his father’s firm in an anthology edited by his brother, the main characters leave the Crown having had dinner there, both showing ‘marked signs of intoxication’. A pub-crawl ensues, at the end of which Ernest Vaughan jumps into a car – a decrepit Ford – and drives down St Aldgates, mounts the kerb and crashes into a shop window. So ends ‘the blind’.

The Fair View Inn, Llanddulas, is where Waugh drowned his sorrows while an unhappy schoolmaster ordinaire in North Wales. He calls it ‘Mrs Roberts’ pub’ in both his Diaries and his sparkling first novel, Decline and Fall. It is in this humble establishment that Grimes – a character based on Waugh’s real-life colleague, Dick Young - confesses his awful history. Grimes had left four schools in haste, three in the middle of term ‘through his being taken in sodomy’ and one through his being drunk six nights in a row.

The Bell, Aston Clinton, is where Evelyn drank while employed at his next school. This Buckinghamshire village is close to both London and Oxford so he didn’t feel as isolated as when he’d been working in Wales. One day a party from Oxford arrived to keep Evelyn company. Much fun was had, but no-one left any money behind at the bar, and Evelyn was left with an enormous bill to split between himself and fellow schoolmaster, Richard Plunket Greene. This loyal friend bought Evelyn a motorbike so he could carry on seeing his chums on his own terms.

The Barley Mow, Dorset, is the pub of pubs for Waugh aficionados. It was while boarding there that Waugh wrote the second half of Decline and Fall. At the time he was engaged to Evelyn Gardner who shared rooms with a girlfriend a couple of miles away. At weekends, they and Henry Lamb, painter, would join He-Evelyn at the Barley Mow and a rollocking time was had by all. It is Badger Ale that the pub sells these days, but the toast surely remains the words of Paul Pennyfeather: ‘To Fortune, a much-maligned lady’.

 - 16

The Abingdon Arms, Beckley, is where He-Evelyn and his lover, Alastair Graham, did a lot of drinking while students at Oxford. Waugh later returned several times to the lovely old inn. First, to write much of the biography, Rossetti. Second, for his honeymoon with She-Evelyn. Third, to write the first half of Vile Bodies. It was on this last occasion that he received a letter from his wife of one year saying that she had fallen in love with John Heygate, a mutual friend of theirs.

 - 24

The Royal George, Appledore, Devon, is where He-Evelyn went to finish off Vile Bodies when he thought he’d recovered from the shock of She-Evelyn’s adultery. A pub called The Royal George is mentioned in the novel, where a Mr Titchcock is asked to to give up his bed for a group of Bright Young Things who are in town to take part in a motorcar race. In the morning, the novel’s main character comes across a mannequin in his room, which reminds him of a similar one from his childhood, which he ripped the stuffing out of with a chisel. A passage that suggests Waugh’s ongoing, underlying rage with She-Evelyn.