I’m a big Evelyn Waugh fan. Always have been, since my first year at University (I did English) where I read A Handful of Dust. I was captivated by Waugh’s witty prose and his account of my favourite era of all time: the period between WWI and WWII.
Waugh was one of the Bright Young People, the young bohemian aristocrats and socialists who lived, somewhat amorally, in London between the 1920s and 40s. Though not born into the aristocracy himself, he joined the club by marrying Evelyn Gardner – and later, left the club by divorcing her (she was unfaithful, how DARE she?!), converting to Catholicism and starting a new family with his second wife Laura.
Once Waugh divorced Gardner and embraced Catholicism, his work incorporated his newly-found faith, which is one of the main themes of Brideshead Revisited. The novel is narrated by the main character – Charles Ryder – and deals with his relationship with the severely flawed but deeply Catholic Marchmain family. Their estate, Brideshead, is the main backdrop where most of the novel takes place and has such a presence that it is almost another character in the novel.
For both the 1982 TV series and the 2008 film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard, a stunning 18th c. stately home in Yorkshire, was the chosen fictional “Brideshead”.
NOTE: The 2 page spread which contains the photographs of Evelyn Waugh is from the book The Same Man, by David Lebedoff (a brilliant book which compares the lives and similarities between Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell)