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Domestic arrangements


Evelyn Waugh
John Julius Norwich Writer
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[Q] Evelyn Waugh – do you remember…

Evelyn Waugh? He was there quite a lot, yes. Evelyn Waugh, I think he was in love with my mother, as so many people were. He would never have done anything about it, he was much too Catholic and much too uxorious, but he liked this sort of flirtation, and my mother was always rather frightened of him – he was rather frightening. My father was always in two minds about him; he didn't mind him fancying my mother a bit, but Evelyn was argumentative and loved rowing. My father actually had loved a good political row too, but they used to almost come to blows, those two together. I remember an evening during the war, 1942 I suppose it must have been or 1943, when Evelyn came for the weekend without his wife. He never brought his wife, he was always alone. He lived very much a bachelor existence despite eight children. And one evening he was there and he said, 'I'd rather the Germans won this war than we won it on the backs of the Americans.' That did it. My father went absolute puce in the face which is a thing he did from time to time. A great vein would stand out in his forehead and he would quiver and his whole face would shake like a jelly with rage. And this was something that he enjoyed very, very much I have no doubt, but he couldn't do it very often because there were very few people who he could do it to. Evelyn was one. So there it was, it was a sort of love-hate relationship. It was a bit odd. But all his life Evelyn came and stayed regular weekends. Every time he came to France he stayed with us and... but he was an uncertain guest at the best of times.

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: Evelyn Waugh

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018