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My mother inspires Evelyn Waugh


Evelyn who?
John Julius Norwich Writer
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He was possessed. It wasn't quite demonic possession, but there was a devil in him somewhere. I mean, at his great religiousness and his extreme piety, I think, were all in an effort to try and vanquish this devil that he knew that he had inside him. I remember when he and Randolph Churchill and Freddie Birkenhead were all in a cave in Yugoslavia in the war together and Randolph never, never, never stopped talking and Evelyn couldn't bear it and had a Bible with him, which he always had, so he bet Randolph that he couldn't read the whole Bible in a week and Randolph took on the bet. Well, it shut him up. He went back into the cave and just read, and read, and read. Occasionally they would hear great bellows going, 'My God, God's a shit', but anyway, they went on and eventually they all got out and Randolph, on his way back, went to Rome and went to see the Pope, which, of course, as the son of Winston Churchill he could easily manage to do. And he said to the Pope, 'You know, I've just been in Yugoslavia with Evelyn Waugh', and the Pope said, 'Evelyn who?' And Randolph said, 'Oh, Evelyn Waugh, you must know Evelyn Waugh', you know. And the Pope said, 'No, I'm afraid I don't know Evelyn Waugh.' 'That's funny', said Randolph, 'he's a Catholic too.'

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Bible, Randolph Churchill, Evelyn Waugh

Duration: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018