Yesterday Paula Byrne's intriguing biography Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead was finally released here, so at last my post from August is relevant. In the spirit of recycling, it appears below. I can only add the habitual news that Harper has opted to degay Lord Beauchamp in their flap copy, calling him "unconventional" and timidly ending the copy about Waugh with, "brings us inevitably to the secret that dared not speak its name."
While at Oxford, Evelyn Waugh had an affair with classmate Hugh Lygon, son of the brazenly gay Lord Beauchamp, the Liberal Party's leader in the House of Lords who chose his "exquisite" male servants for their beauty and their sexual acquiescence. Eventually Waugh would use their story as the basis for his great novel, Brideshead Revisited. Hugh was blond, cute, rich, fun, and dumb, so you already recognize him as Sebastian Flyte even before learning that he drank himself to death at a young age. His father, dividing his time between Belgrave Square and the 1540-built Walmer Castle in Kent, expected to sleep with Hugh's male houseguests. If they didn't comply (often forewarned to lock their doors at night), he groused at breakfast, "He’s very nice, that friend of yours, but he’s damned uncivil."