“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper...”
Waugh was educated at Lancing and went up to Hertford College, Oxford in January 1922. Here he embraced life as an Oxford student, meeting the “bright young things” and gaining experience of a sophisticated and often decadent life style, which he later used to great effect in Brideshead Revisisted.
Coming down from Oxford, Waugh found employment as a school teacher, but continued to write whenever he could, finally taking up writing as a full time occupation in 1927. Decline and Fall was published in 1928 to great critical acclaim and his second novel Vile Bodies, published two years later, was received even more enthusiastically. His increasing sense of despair at the spiritual emptiness he saw at the heart of an ever changing world led to his conversion to Catholicism in 1930. In his novels, Waugh writes of Catholicism standing with honour, tradition and the security of old values against the encroaching changes of class conflict, capitalism and modernity.
Waugh’s time with the Royal Marines during WWII, which included a period spent liaising with Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia, gave him the material for his ironic look at regimental life, The Sword of Honour trilogy.
His later years were marred by poor health brought on by excessive drinking. After his death from heart failure in 1966, Graham Greene acknowledged him as “the greatest novelist of my generation”
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