University of Texas at Austin

Evelyn Waugh:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966
Title: Evelyn Waugh Collection
Dates: 1843-1994 (bulk 1910-1966)
Extent: 16 boxes (6.67 linear feet), 3 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder, and 1 galley folder
Abstract: The bulk of the collection consists of manuscript drafts for 100 of Waugh's works, including Brideshead Revisited (1945). Lesser amounts of Waugh's personal papers and correspondence are also present. Books, manuscripts, and art work collected by Waugh and others date from 1843 to 1994.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-04438
Language: English
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchases and gifts, 1961-1991. The bulk of Waugh’s works, his diaries, art works, and some correspondence, along with his library, were acquired from his estate in 1967.
Processed by Chelsea S. Jones, 1999; Ancelyn Krivak, 2018

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh, born October 28, 1903, was the second son of Arthur, a managing director of Chapman & Hall, Publishers, and Catherine Raban Waugh. Reading and writing played a significant role in the home-life of young Evelyn, whose older brother Alec also became a well-known writer. Waugh began writing and illustrating short stories at the age of four, and at the age of nine he and a group of friends produced a creative magazine for their Pistol Troop club.
In addition to his youthful interest in writing, Waugh developed a strong interest in religion. When his brother's escapades made it impossible for Waugh to follow the family tradition of attending Sherbourne prep school, his father found a place for him at Lancing, a school with a strong religious tradition. During his tenure at Lancing, Waugh performed well in his studies, developed into something of a social bully, decided that he was an atheist, and earned a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford.
When Waugh entered Oxford in 1922 he found his new freedom to be intoxicating. He soon found himself part of a crowd similar to the one he later described in Brideshead Revisited (1945), which included Harold Acton. He did very little studying and left after two years with many experiences and debts, but no degree. After a brief foray into art school he took a series of low-paying teaching positions. In 1927 he began to write steadily and launched himself into a successful career.
The critical success of his first book, a biography, Rossetti: His Life and Works (1928), and the popular success of Decline and Fall (1928) brought Waugh to the attention of the reading public. The financial success of Decline and Fall made it possible for Waugh to marry Evelyn Gardner, called She-Evelyn by their friends. The marriage was short lived, but served as a backdrop for several of Waugh's later works, including Vile Bodies (1930) and Labels: A Mediterranean Journal (1930). Also in 1930, Waugh converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.
For the next several years Waugh spent his time writing short stories, travel books, a biography of Edmund Campion, and several more novels including Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934), and Scoop (1938). He obtained an annulment of his first marriage and in 1937 married Laura Herbert, with whom he had seven children.
1939 brought the start of WWII and Waugh took the earliest opportunity to join in the defense of England. As part of the Home Guard in 1940 he participated in the fiasco of the Battle of Crete which was the basis for Put Out More Flags (1942). Waugh was not a good leader, despite fearless action in the face of battle, and in 1943 he resigned from his Commando unit. In 1944 he was sent to Yugoslavia as part of a mission to shore up Tito's partisan efforts in the German held territory. During this mission he completed his best known and most controversial work, Brideshead Revisited (1945).
Discharged from the military in 1945, Waugh continued to write and travel. He went to Hollywood in 1947 to work on a screenplay for Brideshead, which fell through when he refused to give up the final say on the script. While he was in California he found a rich source of material: Forest Lawn Memorial Park. This lavish funeral home inspired Waugh to write The Loved One (1948), one of his funniest and most popular books.
Waugh continued to write, though he became increasingly reclusive. Growing health problems, related to a lifetime of heavy drinking, smoking, and the use of sedatives to induce sleep, limited public appearances. On a cruise in 1956 he suffered a bout of paranoid hallucinations which formed the centerpiece of his most autobiographical novel, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957). Waugh lived until 1966, ending his writing career with the publication of The Sword of Honor Trilogy (1965).


Dictionary of Literary Biography -- Volume 15: British Novelists, 1930-1959, part 2, M-Z. Bernard Oldsey, Ed. (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1983).
Hastings, Selina. Evelyn Waugh: A Biography. (Great Britain: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994).

Scope and Contents

Holograph and typescript manuscripts, some bound, and diaries and journals comprise the majority of the Evelyn Waugh Collection, 1843-1994 (bulk 1910-1966). The collection is organized into four series: I. Works, 1910-1964 (10 boxes); II. Correspondence, 1894-1994 (1 box); III. Personal Papers, 1924-1962 (2 boxes); and IV. Works by other Authors, 1843-1966 (3 boxes). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
The Works Series contains manuscripts for 100 works by Waugh, including drafts of Brideshead Revisited, A Handful of Dust, A Little Learning, and Rossetti: His Life and Works, as well as most of his other novels and many short stories, essays, travel books, reviews, and juvenilia, arranged alphabetically by title. Of particular note are several diaries containing some of his first efforts at short stories at age four and continuing through his early days at boarding school. A complete list of his works present in the collection is available in the Index of Works at the end of this guide.
The Correspondence Series is organized into four subseries, arranged alphabetically and chronologically where possible: Subseries A. Outgoing Correspondence, 1921-1966; Subseries B. Incoming Correspondence, 1937-1965; Subseries C. Correspondence by Subject, 1946-1962; and Subseries D. Third-Party Correspondence, 1894-1994. The Outgoing and Incoming Correspondence subseries are composed of mostly personal letters between Waugh and friends or acquaintances, including Earl Baldwin, John Betjeman, Dudley Carew, his brother, Alec Waugh, and others, as well as a few business letters with Little, Brown, & Company. The Subseries Correspondence by Subject contains exchanges between Waugh and his agent, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Vincent Whelen, grouped topically. The small Third-Party Correspondence Subseries contains a few letters between people other than Waugh, including A. D. Power and Dame Edith Sitwell. The 1994 letter in this subseries contains a scholar's effort to correct biographical data about Waugh. There are also two letters written in the 1890s by Arthur Waugh. A complete list of correspondents can be found in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.
The Personal Papers Series contains almost forty years of intermittent journals kept by Waugh. These journals contain day-to-day activities as well as thoughts and musings of the author. In addition to the journals, identity papers, lists and notes, and memoranda of agreement between Waugh and Albatross Verlag are present.
The Works by other Authors Series, arranged alphabetically by author, contains several illuminated volumes from the 19th century collected by Waugh, as well as twentieth century manuscripts written by Harold Acton, Ronald Knox, Alec Waugh, and others. Of particular interest is an album created in 1854 by John Garland, known as the "Victorian Blood Book," which contains about twenty collages of religious images with text added by Garland. Also included are Stuart Boyle's original pen and ink illustrations for The Loved One and a dissertation by Steven Jervis. A complete listing of these works is available in the Index of Works by other Authors found at the end of this guide.

Related Material

Other materials associated with Waugh may be found in the following collections at the Ransom Center:
  • A. D. Peters
  • Bax, Clifford
  • Betjeman, John
  • Bowen, Elizabeth
  • Brooke, Jocelyn
  • Connolly, Cyril
  • Coppard, A. E.
  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert
  • Duncan, R. F. H.
  • Fitzgibbon, Constantine
  • Gerhardi, W. A.
  • Golden Cockerel Press
  • Harper's
  • Hutchinson, Mary
  • Lehmann, John
  • London Magazine
  • Lowndes, M. A. B.
  • Mackenzie, Compton
  • Mitchison, N.
  • Priestley, J. B.
  • Scott-James, R. A.
  • Sitwell, Edith
  • Sitwell, Osbert
  • Strong, L. A. G.
  • Waugh, Alec

Separated Material

Elsewhere in the Ransom Center are 14 Vertical File folders containing printed materials by Waugh as well as criticism of his work, printed post cards, and clippings and other items withdrawn from books in Waugh's library. The Literary Files of the Photography Collection hold over 100 individual photographs of Waugh, his family, friends, and landscapes, in addition to two photo albums. Also included in the holdings are two scrapbooks containing book covers, sketches, and other ephemera collected by Waugh, a home movie, seven cassette tapes of interviews with and about Waugh, and more than 4,000 books from the author's personal library, including a bound manuscript volume of Martin Luther's devotional sayings, 16th or early 17th century (shelfmark HRC Medieval & Early Modern Mss 189).
The Art Collection contains 241 works of art by and related to Waugh. These include sketches, illustrations, and prints and are present in a variety of formats: pen and ink, ink wash, graphite and color pencil, and crayon. Of particular note are Waugh's illustrations for Decline and Fall, a bound volume of early drawings by John Wood and a sketchbook by Penelope and Ellen Parry. Some of Waugh's personal effects are also present, including his desk, an inkwell, and two fountain pens.
All A. D. Peters materials which were previously catalogued with the Waugh collection have been removed to the A. D. Peters Collection.

Index Terms


Betjeman, John, Sir, 1906- .
Pankhurst, E. Sylvia (Estelle Sylvia), 1882-1960.
Power, A. D. (A. David).
Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964.
Waugh, Alec, 1898- .
Whelen, Vincent A.
Albatross Verlag.
Little, Brown, and Co.


Authors, England--20th century.
Catholics, England--Fiction.
Upper class--England--Fiction.
Africa--Travel and description.
England--Social life and customs--20th century.
Middle East--Travel and description.
South America--Travel and description.

Document types

Galley proofs.
Sound recordings.

Other Finding Aids

A Catalogue of the Evelyn Waugh Collection at the Humanities Research Center was written by Robert Murray Davis (New York: The Whitston Publishing Company: 1981). This catalogue covers all works and letters by Waugh found in this collection, at the time of its publication, as well as general correspondence to Waugh, but omits letters to Waugh contained in the A. D. Peters files, as well as any manuscript material in those files which is duplicated in the Works Series. Additionally, scrapbooks, memorabilia, manuscript material about Waugh, and items withdrawn from books in Waugh's library are not described in the catalog.

Evelyn Waugh Collection--Folder List