Evelyn Waugh: Reader, Writer, Collector

Rationale for the Evelyn Waugh: Reader, Writer, Collector symposium held at the Huntington Library, 5-6 May 2017

Rose garden at the Huntington
In 2013, Loren and Frances Rothschild donated their Evelyn Waugh archive toThe Huntington Library. In Evelyn Waugh: Reader, Writer, Collector, an international two-day symposium, Waugh scholars - researchers, editors and archival practitioners - will explore the biographical, practical and disciplinary significance of these new holdings. The symposium is a collaboration between the Evelyn Waugh Society, the Huntington and the UK-based Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh project (CWEW).

A Complete Works project is necessarily an act of collection, gathering and reconfiguring disparate books and documents from archives across states, countries and continents. In this way, the work of the CWEW reflects and amplifies that of both private collectors such as Waugh and Rothschild and archival centres such as the Huntington. Evelyn Waugh: Reader, Writer, Collector, itself a drawing together, examines the multifaceted concept of collection and the dialectic it forms with our work as humanities scholars. In particular, the symposium will address the following areas:

Duff Cooper Bookplate
Duff Cooper bookplate pasted inside the autograph draft of “Ninety-Two Days”. Box 9 (13), Evelyn Waugh Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Image by Naomi Milthorpe.
Evelyn Waugh as collector.

How do Waugh’s own reading habits and appreciation of the book as aesthetic object inform his conviction that writing is, primarily, craft?

Textual editing and collation.

How might textual editors influence perception of Waugh’s writing through the principles by which they order and represent its witnesses? Is it possible to collate without effacement?


Do the parallel collecting activities of textual editors, bibliophiles and archival centres constitute a consolidation and defence of humanities knowledge in a time of disciplinary crisis?

Waugh’s reputation as one of the great writers of the twentieth century continues to grow, and interest in his work will be enhanced the by forthcoming 43-volume scholarly edition of his Complete Works, published by Oxford University Press and supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Huntington’s Evelyn Waugh Collection (formerly the largest United States collection in private hands) is already a major resource for readers and scholars and our conference will celebrate both the Rothschilds’ donation and the publication of the first volumes in The Complete Works later in 2017.

Read Robert Murray Davis' reflections on the conference on our blog

Listen to the talks on soundcloud

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