Evelyn Waugh — British Writer With Roots in Farce and Catholic Convers

Having studied in Virginia, Zachary See is working toward a master’s degree in English literature at Arcadia University. Zachary See’s favorite activities in Virginia included reading and he gained an interest in British authors such as Charles Dickens and Evelyn Waugh.

Best known for Brideshead Revisited, the 20th century author Evelyn Waugh was a mediocre university student who held various positions as carpenter and schoolmaster before settling into writing. His first work was a 1928 biography of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet. He followed this the next year with the farce Decline and Fall, which drew on his experiences as teacher.

Having bolstered his reputation for dark farce with Vile Bodies, Waugh published A Handful of Dust in 1934, which many critics consider his finest work. He later described this serious work as containing “all I had to say about humanism.” Subsequent novels reflected Waugh’s emerging identity as a conservative and converted Catholic, and included a five-volume series of travel books. Published in 1945, Brideshead Revisited was a transatlantic success and served as a memoir of sorts, describing redemptive aspects of his religious conversion.