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Personal message from Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh found by chance

Posted on 23/07/2019 in Press Coverage

A Brideshead Revisited book signed with a personal message by author Evelyn Waugh has been discovered in Derbyshire.

The sixth edition copy of the most famous of Waugh’s works would have been of nominal value but for the inscription inside its cover.

It reads: ‘For Ignatuis Magee, with kindest regards, from Evelyn Waugh, St Timothy’s Day 1952, Derby’.

Thanks to the message, which turns the edition into a presentation copy, it’s set to go into Hansons Auctioneers’ Library sale on July 31 with an estimate of £200-£300.

Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons, said: “Some signed copies of Brideshead Revisited first editions are known but the fact that he’s written a personal message to a friend, not just his signature, makes this special.

I've handled signed works by Evelyn Waugh, but never a presentation copy of Brideshead Revisited bearing a personal dedication. Yes it's a sixth edition, but it's still an incredible thing - you won't find another. It could create a bidding war and really surprise us, I discovered it within a small collection of books, I try to be a bit of a sniffer dog, always checking for inscriptions, and lo and behold - there was something special inside.

“I can only assume Ignatuis Magee is a friend. I wonder if the reference to ‘St Timothy’s Day, Derby,’ relates to a visit to Liverpool. The Catholic parish of St Paul and St Timothy serves the area of West Derby in Liverpool. Waugh converted to Catholicism in 1930 after his first marriage failed.”

Waugh (1903-1966), the son of a publisher, was educated at Lancing College and Hertford College, Oxford. He worked briefly as a schoolmaster before he became a full-time writer. As a young man, he acquired many fashionable and aristocratic friends and developed a taste for country house society.

He travelled extensively in the 1930s, often as a special newspaper correspondent, and served in the British armed forces throughout the Second World War.

After his death in 1966 he won a new audience through film and television versions of his works, which included a Brideshead Revisited TV series.

“My personal favourite Waugh book is Decline and Fall but whichever of his famous novels you prefer, he was an immensely talented and perceptive writer,” said Mr Spencer. “I’m sure collectors will be keen to own this book.”

The signed copy of Brideshead Revisited will be sold on July 31 at Hansons’ Library Auction, Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To find out more, email: [email protected].