Evelyn Waugh Had Three Gay Lovers in His Oxford Days

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Byline: Julie Moult

THE novelist Evelyn Waugh had three gay lovers during an 'acute homosexual phase' while studying at Oxford, according to a biography.

Author Paula Byrne hails him as a 'great bisexual' writer and reveals that he cherished the 'fully fledged' affairs.

Waugh, who died in 1966, is regarded by many as the finest English writer of his generation.

Although he married twice and fathered seven children, there have always been question marks over his sexuality.

Miss Byrne says that he 'grew out' of his homosexuality when he left university.

She also claims that Waugh drew inspiration from two of his male companions for Lord Sebastian Flyte, his most famous literary creation. The biog-raphy, Mad World: Evelyn Waugh And The Secrets of Brideshead, names Waugh's lovers as Richard Pares, Alistair Graham and Hugh Lygon.

'He had what he called an "acute homosexual phase" when he was at Oxford, like most Oxford men in the Twenties,' said Miss Byrne. 'It was not particularly unusual, particularly because women were not permitted to go to Oxford.

'It was very much perceived as acceptable as long as it was a phase you grew out of when you left Oxford.

'He used to joke to friends who hadn't had a gay phase that they had missed out on something.

'He said it was like fermenting wine, in order to prepare you for later on - for being married.' She said letters Waugh wrote to his friend Nancy Mitford, the novelist and biographer, showed the intensity of his relationship with Richard Pares, his first gay lover.

But Waugh destroyed many of his Oxford diaries because they were 'too inflammatory'. …