Evelyn Waugh


Every volume of fiction, biography, autobiography and travel writing will be complemented by a detailed introduction, comprehensive endnotes, and notes on the development of the text from manuscript stage to its last printing during Waugh's lifetime.

To date, five volumes of the edition have been published. Read on to find out more about both published and forthcoming volumes. By the end of the project we will have published:

  • Fifteen volumes of Evelyn Waugh's Fiction
  • Four volumes of Biography and Autobiography
  • Six volumes of Travel Writing
  • Four volumes of Essays, Articles and Reviews
  • At least twelve volumes of Personal Writings


Volume 1: Decline and Fall (originally published in 1928)

Edited by Simon James.

Waugh’s first novel is a social comedy that sparkles with well-observed dialogue. It draws heavily on the author’s time as an undistinguished schoolmaster in Wales, and introduces us to Waugh’s take on the Bright Young People of 1920s Britain. Waugh provided his own illustrations for the novel and its original dust jacket.

Volume 2: Vile Bodies (originally published in 1930)

Edited by Martin Stannard; published on 14 September 2017.

Waugh’s marriage to Evelyn Gardner broke up halfway through his writing of Vile Bodies. As a result, what starts out as a light, slightly surreal comedy comparable to Decline and Fall abruptly changes course and heads into darker, more bitter territory.

Volume 3: Black Mischief (originally published in 1932)

Edited by Naomi Milthorpe

Arguably Waugh’s most controversial novel, Black Mischief is a fictionalised account of the coronation of Haile Selassie in Abyssinia. Waugh, a recent concert to Roman Catholicism, was attacked in England’s Catholic newspaper The Tablet for what the editor saw as the novel’s profanity.

Volume 4: A Handful of Dust (originally published in 1934)

Edited by Henry Woudhuysen

Brideshead Revisited’s main contender for the title of Waugh’s “best novel”. Here the dark vein that runs through Vile Bodies is amplified as the now familiar world of the Bright Young People is shattered by betrayal and death. Waugh wrote an alternative, less fantastical ending to the novel for its serialisation in the US magazine Harper’s Bazaar, which is included as an appendix in our new edition.

Volumes 5 and 6: Short Fiction

Edited by Ann Pasternak Slater

The Complete Works project is pulling together all Waugh’s short stories and novellas in two comprehensive volumes, with WWII marking the watershed. Short Fiction will include everything from the half-page tales Waugh wrote for Oxford university student journals to the wish-fulfilling Basil Seal Rides Again, completed three years before his death. There are more than forty stories in total, many of which have not been published since their first appearance.

Volume 7: Scoop (originally published in 1938)

Edited by Jason Harding

Waugh’s satire of Fleet Street, inspired by his time as a war correspondent in Abyssinia, has enjoyed continuing popularity and retains an uncanny ring of truth. This intricately plotted comedy marries mistaken identity with realpolitik as it describes the world of foreign correspondents who do not report the news so much as make it up themselves.

Volume 8: Put Out More Flags (originally published in 1942)

Edited by Nigel Wood

This tragicomic story of the early years of WWII follows the fortunes of the handsome bounder Basil Seal, who first appeared in Black Mischief. In this escapade, Basil’s sister Barbara finds her quiet village existence rocked by the arrival of refugees from Birmingham while his formerly elegant mistress Angela descends into alcoholism.

Volume 9: Brideshead Revisited (originally published in 1945)

Edited by Robert Murray Davis & Lewis MacLeod

Waugh’s most famous novel is a chronicle of the Flyte family as seen by Sebastian Flyte’s Oxford contemporary – and possible lover – Charles Ryder. As time passes Ryder’s affections move to Sebastian’s sister, the unhappily married Julia. At the time of its publication Brideshead was characterised by denigrators as “Catholic propaganda”, but its lyrical beauty has stood the test of time.

Volume 10: The Loved One (originally published in 1948)

Edited by Adrian Poole

This satire of the American funeral trade has drawn comparisons with Jonathan Swift for its cold fury masked with dark humour. The book’s burial ground Whispering Glades so closely resembled the LA cemetery Forest Lawn that Waugh feared libel action in the States. The book’s grotesquery is reflected in its illustrations, provided by Stuart Boyle.

Volume 11: Helena (originally published in 1950)

Edited by Sara Haslam

Helena is Waugh’s only historical fiction, and is also unusual within the canon for having a female protagonist. Its subject is the life of St Helena who, as legend has it, unearthed the true cross in the fourth century AD. Waugh’s trademark use of the vernacular, especially in dialogue, sets it apart from other historical novels of the time.

Volumes 12, 13 and 15: Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, Unconditional Surrender (originally published in 1952, 1955 and 1961)

Edited by Max Saunders

These three wartime novels were later collected, substantially revised and published under the title Sword of Honour. The Complete Works project will be producing a new edition of each complete text.

The trilogy, viewed by many as Waugh’s masterpiece, was originally published over the course of a decade. Its hero is ex-patriot Guy Crouchback, who leaves his home in Italy to volunteer in the English army on the outbreak of World War II. The tone of the books grows darker as Crouchback becomes increasingly disillusioned with his wartime service, and arguably offers the most sympathetic (yet still eccentric) cast of characters in the entire cannon of Waugh fiction.

Volume 14: The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (originally published in 1957)

Edited by Barbara Cooke

While much of Waugh’s fiction is ‘drawn from the life’, some of it so close to the bone as to cause its author some difficulties, autobiographical influence is clearest of all in this short novel. Gilbert Pinfold is a middle-aged author who battles with hallucinations aboard the cruise liner S.S. Caliban, and his ‘ordeal’ is related in a style that borders on the postmodern.

Biography and autobiography

Volume 16: Rossetti, His Life and Works (originally published in 1928)

Edited by Michael Brennan; Published 14 September 2017

Although he was primarily known as a fiction writer, Waugh’s first published book was in fact a biography of the pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Waugh’s gift for social comedy shines through in his depiction of the lifestyle clash between the bohemian Rossetti and the peaceable William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Volume 17: Edmund Campion: Jesuit and Martyr (originally published in 1935)

Edited by Thomas McCoog and Gerard Kilroy

After his conversion Waugh wrote two biographies of Catholic priests: Edmund Campion and Ronald Knox. This life of Campion, an Elizabethan Jesuit, won its author the prestigious Hawthornden prize for its beautiful and imaginative prose and marks a strong departure from his trademark laconic and cynical style.

Volume 18: The Life of Right Reverend Ronald Knox (originally published in 1959) 

Chip Long

While Waugh’s first “Catholic” biography concerns an historical figure, the subject for his second is much closer to home. Waugh loved and revered Father Knox, or Ronnie as he was known, as a personal friend and administered his estate after death. His biography balances admiration with the objectivity required of a biographer and observer of human nature.

Volume 19: A Little Learning (originally published in 1964)

Edited by The late J.H. Wilson and Barbara Cooke; Published 14 September 2017

Waugh intended to write a multi-volume autobiography, but only saw one volume through to publication before he died. A Little Learning takes us up to Waugh’s unhappy post-Oxford years as a schoolmaster and finishes before the publication of his first books. Our new edition also includes the surviving fragment of the next planned volume, A Little Hope. 

Travel Writing

Volume 20: Labels (originally published in 1930)

Edited by Sharon Ouditt

Waugh’s first book of travel writing, Labels was produced from a series of articles he wrote charting his cruise around well-known tourist destinations of the Mediterranean. Evelyn and his first wife, who fell desperately ill during the tour, are fictionalised in the characters of Geoffrey and Juliet. This was effectively the Waughs' honeymoon, and so the book's American title - A Bachelor Abroad - is somewhat misleading.

Volume 21: Remote People (originally published in 1931) 

Waugh’s second travelogue takes him further afield to East Africa. It was written after his separation from Evelyn Gardner and is the result of his desperation to get away from London. His state of mind is reflected in his choice of chapter titles: ‘First Nightmare, Second Nightmare… Third Nightmare’.

Volume 22: Ninety-Two Days (originally published in 1934)

Edited by Douglas Lane Patey

An account of Waugh’s treks through rural South America, related with an emphasis on personal discomfort and boredom The eccentric Mr Christie, proprietor of a ranch in Guiana, has a more sinister fictional counterpart in A Handful of Dust’s Mr Todd.

Volume 23: Waugh in Abyssinia (originally published in 1936) 

An account of Mussolini’s Abyssinian campaign. At the time of the fascist invasion, Waugh was working as a journalist in Addis Ababa for the Daily Mail newspaper which printed over 60 of his reports from the war-stricken area between August and November 1935 (these reports will be included in Essays, Articles and Reviews). The Mail was one of a very few English newspapers to take a pro-Italian stance to the war, and this is reflected with gusto in Waugh’s text.

Volume 24: A Tourist in Africa (originally published in 1960)

Edited by Patrick Query

In A Tourist in Africa, Waugh’s only travel book to be written post-WWII, the author returns to previously explored, but much changed, territory such as Port Said. He also makes political assessments of British colonies on the brink of independence in southern Africa.

Volume 25: Robbery Under Law (originally published in 1939)

Edited by Michael Brennan

A polemic text that conveys Waugh’s horror of the one-party socialist regime ruling Mexico during the 1930s. Waugh’s recurrent theme of civilisation versus savagery is expressed here in his contrasting of the historical culture of Mexico – which he compares favourably to that of the United States – with what he sees as its recent descent into barbarism.

Essay, Articles and Reviews

Volumes 26-29: Essays, Articles and Reviews (series began in November 2017)

Edited by Donat Gallagher 

Our series of Waugh’s shorter non-fictional works brings together every surviving article and essay from “In Defence of Cubism”, which Waugh wrote aged fourteen, all the way through to his review of Hubert Van Zeller’s autobiography, One Foot in the Cradle, which appeared in the month of Waugh's death. As a writer for hire, a considerable amount of Waugh’s life in letters was devoted to journalism - these 4 volumes provide a detailed picture of the man and his times that complements his fiction and reveals his considered and not-so-considered opinion on the subjects of, to name but a few, marriage, Mussolini, motherhood, censorship and church reform. Waugh’s short travelogue The Holy Places (1952) is also included in this collection, along with the foreword to his compilation of pre-war travel texts, When the Going was Good (1946).

Personal Writings

Volumes 30-42: Personal Writings with Juvenilia and Graphic Art (series began in October 2017)

Edited by Alexander Waugh; Volume 30 edited with the late Alan Bell

The Complete Works will make all of Waugh’s letters and unexpurgated diaries available for the first time. Our Personal Writings series of volumes is edited with detailed biographical and contextual notes by Waugh’s grandson, Alexander Waugh, and contains all Waugh’s graphic art - some of which has been used to design this website - and childhood writings.

As well as Waugh’s own letters, Alexander also plans to include many of those his grandfather received from literary correspondents such as Nancy Mitford and Graham Green. Waugh’s love letters to Teresa ‘Baby’ Jungman, thought lost for many years, are a highlight of a collection which promises to shed new light on, and bring new insights to, the colourful personal life of one of the most talented writers of modern English prose.

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