Original Manuscript Review of Nancy Mitford's "The Water Beetle"

With a first edition of Nancy Mitford's The Water Beetle (Hamilton, 1962)

WAUGH, Evelyn

An excellent, disarming title making everything easy for reviewers

WAUGH, Evelyn Original Manuscript Review of Nancy Mitford's "The Water Beetle" With a first edition of Nancy Mitford's The Water Beetle (Hamilton, 1962)

1962.

A single foolscap (214 x 328 mm) lined page containing approximately 600 words in holograph manuscript reviewing Nancy Mitford's "The Water Beetle" for the Daily Telegraph. Signed at the head of the page, Waugh has added "proof please to Combe Florey House, Taunton" to the margin in red ink. A single horizontal crease, otherwise fine. The review is a wonderful testament to the close friendship shared by Mitford and Waugh who loved nothing more than to tease and rag one another.

Evelyn Waugh's review of Mitford's The Water Beetle, published in the Sunday Telegraph on 21st October, 1962.
Waugh had sought the company of the Mitford sisters from his early twenties. The most enduring friendship was with Nancy, strengthened by a shared sense of humour and love of teasing, which blossomed through frequent and intimate correspondence.
After visiting Mitford in Paris in 1951, Waugh wrote, "she leads you into her salon... and talks, prattles, giggles - of what? Gossip, outrageous, incredible, entirely funny". Miss Nancy Mitford is full, he states, of "sweetness, happiness and inexpressible levity."
During its preparation this book of essays was discussed at length between the correspondents. Commenting on her choice of title Mitford wrote, "I hope to disarm the critics by calling it The Water Beetle."
The title was taken from Hilaire Belloc's, A Moral Alphabet:
The Water Beetle here shall teach,
A sermon far beyond your reach;
He flabbergasts the Human Race,
By gliding on the Water's face,
With ease, celerity and grace,
But if he ever stopped to think,
Of how he did it he would sink.
Upon receipt of the title's derivation Waugh responded, "An excellent, disarming title making everything easy for reviewers. How I look forward to the book."
On 10th October Waugh wrote to Mitford to say he had received a copy of her book and had very much enjoyed it, apart from the "coarse" drawings by Osbert Lancaster. He also mentioned that he was writing a review for the Sunday Telegraph and concludes, "I hope I say the right thing. I delight in the book."
Mitford might have been surprised therefore when the review began in Waugh's typically acerbic style,
"The contemporary English literary world may be conveniently divided into: those who can write but cannot think, those who can think but cannot write, and those who can neither think nor write … Nancy Mitford, by her choice of title, puts herself in the first class."
Waugh goes on to praise the fluency of the writing in these essays, which range from childhood reminiscences to discussing Scott's expedition to the Antarctic "and she does it all with ease, celerity and grace… all is told in the same gay artless, artful manner as though in one of those salons whose demise she tearlessly regrets…capable of such gaffes as describing Oates's disappearance in the blizzard as suicide."
He concludes, "This accumulation of short pieces brings only delight.... [Mitford] constantly flabbergasts the present reviewer. When most of our writers have sunk, she will still be gliding on the water's face."
Mitford responded upon reading the printed review, "You are a brute…. Oh how I screamed at your review …many thanks for flaying me alive, poor little unpretentious Water Beetle."

Bibliography: The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, Hodder & Stoughton edited by Charlotte Mosley; Evelyn Waugh; A Biography by Selina Hastings

Stock ID: 32072

£6,000.00

Add to bag Add to favourites Make an enquiry

Browse related books

Officers and Gentlemen

WAUGH, Evelyn

£150.00

Unconditional Surrender

WAUGH, Evelyn

£85.00

Vile Bodies

WAUGH, Evelyn

£375.00

Ronald Knox

WAUGH, Evelyn

£750.00

Unconditional Surrender

WAUGH, Evelyn

£50.00

Remote People

WAUGH, Evelyn

£3,000.00

A Collection of Seven Unpublished Autograph Letters to Christopher Sykes

WAUGH, Evelyn

£16,500.00

Original Advertisement for Waugh's Knox Sermons

KNOX, Ronald / WAUGH, Evelyn

£150.00

Black Mischief

WAUGH, Evelyn

£15,000.00

Brideshead Revisited

WAUGH, Evelyn

£5,000.00

A Handful of Dust

WAUGH, Evelyn

£8,750.00

Decline and Fall

WAUGH, Evelyn

£1,500.00

Scott-King's Modern Europe

WAUGH, Evelyn

£45.00

Work Suspended

WAUGH, Evelyn

£3,000.00

Tactical Excercise

WAUGH, Evelyn

£50.00

A Little Order

WAUGH, Evelyn

£25.00

Autograph Letter, Signed

WAUGH, Evelyn

£850.00

Autograph Letter, Signed

WAUGH, Evelyn

£1,500.00

p.r.b.

WAUGH, Evelyn

£95.00

Vile Bodies

WAUGH, Evelyn

£6,500.00