Brideshead Author Waugh 'And His Three Homosexual Lovers at Oxford'

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 14, 2009 | Go to article overview

Brideshead Author Waugh 'And His Three Homosexual Lovers at Oxford'


Byline: Ross Lydall

EVELYN WAUGH fell in love with three fellow male students at Oxford and had "fully fledged" homosexual affairs with them, according to a new biography of the novelist.

Author Paula Byrne said the affairs were cherished by Waugh, who she describes as "a great bisexual novelist", throughout his life and influenced his subsequent novels.

Waugh, who died in 1966, is regarded as the finest English writer of his generation. His work included Brideshead Revisited and Scoop.

Byrne, whose biography Mad World: Evelyn Waugh And The Secrets of Brides head has just been published, named Waugh's lovers as Richard Pares, Alistair Graham and Hugh Lygon.

She said: "He had what he called an 'acute homosexual phase' when he was at Oxford, like most Oxford men in the Twenties. 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."

Byrne 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. She added that Waugh destroyed many of his Oxford diaries because they were "too inflammatory", but she unearthed in the British Library a nude photograph of Graham that he had sent to Waugh -though the library refused her permission to publish it in her book.

She said: "It's true that perhaps previous biographers have skirted round the issue -did he or didn't he? -but he absolutely, unquestionably did."

Waugh's second and third lovers, Graham and Lygon, formed the composite for the character of Sebastian Flyte in Brides head Revisited.

"That was an incredible, tense affair," Byrne said of Waugh's relationship with Graham. …

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