Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2005 Newsletter

RC Acquires Newly Discovered Waugh/Greene Correspondence

Photograph
Photograph

Newly discovered Evelyn Waugh letter to
Graham Greene. © Waugh Estate.

nglish novelists of the 20th century, has been acquired by the Ransom Center.

The letter, discovered among a collection of books belonging to Greene's wife, Vivien, adds to the Ransom Center's substantial collections of manuscripts and published works of Greene and Waugh.

Oxford bookseller Ann Gate discovered the letter while reviewing about 1,200 books from the library of Vivien Greene. Dated January 19, 1947, the letter was found folded and inserted between pages 98 and 99 of the 1937 reprint of Waugh's novel A Handful of Dust.

Written on stationery from Waugh's Gloucestershire home, Piers Court, Waugh's letter to Greene contains a particularly fine expression of his admiration of Greene's novels and his work:

"I don't think I have ever had the chance to say either in public or private how much I admire your novels or how pleased I am at the wide recognition they have won. Indeed now I come to think of it I believe I have twice reviewed other books of yours rather captiously. I suppose we disagree on every unimportant subject. Let me now salute your novels as works of high genius-an opinion in which I have never wavered."

Waugh's comments came seven years after the publication of Greene's The Power and The Glory and more than a year before the publication of The Heart of the Matter.

"Waugh wrote in this newly discovered letter, 'I suppose we disagree on every unimportant subject,'" Ransom Center Director Tom Staley said. "Yet they agreed on the most important one for two writers. Each admired the other's work to the exclusion of their many differences. Greene thought Waugh the greatest prose stylist of his age. He once wrote, 'Evelyn's style is like the Mediterranean before the war: so clear you can see right down to the bottom.'"  

-Jen Tisdale


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