Beautiful Books buys rights to new Evelyn Waugh biography


Simon Petherick of Beautiful Books has bought World English rights from Isobel Dixon to new agency client Duncan McLaren's 'inquisitive, inventive' portrait of Evelyn Waugh, EVELYN! RHAPSODY FOR AN OBSESSIVE LOVE. Beautiful Books will publish in September 2011.

In EVELYN! RHAPSODY OF AN OBSESSIVE LOVE, Duncan McLaren, the acclaimed biographer of Enid Blyton, turns his attention to Evelyn Waugh, charting a very personal course through Waugh's life, up until the writing and publication of his final novel, Unconditional Surrender.

Adopting the same disruptive and inquisitive approach as his previous works, McLaren manages to produce an entirely new portrait of Evelyn Waugh to those painted by more traditional recent biographies. Beginning with his own personal obsession with Decline and Fall, McLaren embarks on a real journey with his partner Kate to many of the key places in Waugh's life, discovering along the way new insights into the triangular relationship between Waugh, his wife Evelyn Gardner and the man she left him for, John Heygate.

Both sympathetic and inimitably curious, McLaren manages to bring one of our greatest writers to life in a completely unorthodox, but very literary, manner.

Duncan McLaren's Saga blog, Visiting Mabel is also shortlisted for the The 2011 Orwell Blog Prize.

"I instantly loved the inquisitive nature of this biography. Evelyn Waugh has always been one of my favourite authors, and with this book Duncan illuminates aspects of Waugh's life hitherto ignored by other biographers. By placing his own experiences next to those of Waugh, this is a very inventive, and absolutely compelling, look at the life of one of Britain's greatest writers." -- Simon Petherick, MD of Beautiful Books

"[McLaren] shows how funny Waugh's writing is by adopting and using many of his phrases, often in surprising ways. He is funny, and that's a large part of the book's pleasure: not just rehashing all those old novels (which we do in academia), but discovering new things about them and trying to explain them to others." -- John Howard Wilson, Secretary of the Evelyn Waugh Society

Duncan McLaren is the author of LOOKING FOR ENID, a biography of Enid Blyton, and has written extensively on art mainly for the Independent on Sunday and for art magazines. He lives in Tayside.


"Illuminating and entertaining." -- The Independent

"Cheerful and inventive - packed with pastiche, imaginary encounters and literary criticism. Imagine Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with lashings of ginger beer instead of hallucinogenics." -- The Times

"Hurrah for Little Noddy! Hurrah for Enid Blyton! And Hurrah for Duncan McLaren's horribly hilarious, hideously brilliant quest to discover what made Enid tick. I laughed so hard that I spat out the vodka - I mean ginger beer - I was sipping, drenching my dog." - Val Hennessy, Daily Mail