Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 10, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 480 pages
2 Reviews
If there is a literary gene, then the Waugh family most certainly has it—and it clearly seems to be passed down from father to son. The first of the literary Waughs was Arthur, who, when he won the Newdigate Prize for poetry at Oxford in 1888, broke with the family tradition of medicine. He went on to become a distinguished publisher and an immensely influential book columnist. He fathered two sons, Alec and Evelyn, both of whom were to become novelists of note (and whom Arthur, somewhat uneasily, would himself publish); both of whom were to rebel in their own ways against his bedrock Victorianism; and one of whom, Evelyn, was to write a series of immortal novels that will be prized as long as elegance and lethal wit are admired. Evelyn begat, among seven others, Auberon Waugh, who would carry on in the family tradition of literary skill and eccentricity, becoming one of England’s most incorrigibly cantankerous and provocative newspaper columnists, loved and loathed in equal measure. And Auberon begat Alexander, yet another writer in the family, to whom it has fallen to tell this extraordinary tale of four generations of scribbling male Waughs.

The result of his labors is Fathers and Sons, one of the most unusual works of biographical memoir ever written. In this remarkable history of father-son relationships in his family, Alexander Waugh exposes the fraught dynamics of love and strife that has produced a succession of successful authors. Based on the recollections of his father and on a mine of hitherto unseen documents relating to his grandfather, Evelyn, the book skillfully traces the threads that have linked father to son across a century of war, conflict, turmoil and change. It is at once very, very funny, fearlessly candid and exceptionally moving—a supremely entertaining book that will speak to all fathers and sons, as well as the women who love them.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

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User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

I tried, but I confess to being so put off early in the book that I didn't try very hard. I've never read anything by any of the Waughs, so that no doubt contributed to my lack of interest in their history. I picked this up on the strength of the cover, which is always risky. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - NellieMc - LibraryThing

This is a well-written book about Evelyn Waugh and his family, but it could be a bit tedious and repetitive. Worth the time if you'reinterested in Evelyn Waugh, England (esp. between the wars) and English literature. Read full review

Contents

Family Tree i
1
Midsomer Norton
20
Golden
47
Lacking in Love
74
Out in the Cold
101
Spirit of Change
134
VH In Arcadia
165
N0 Uplifting Twist
198
Harpy Dying
232
Irritability
271
X Fantasia
301
Under Fire
338
XII Leaving Home
375
My Father
417
To Auberon Augustus Ichabod Waugh
453
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About the author (2008)

ALEXANDER WAUGH is the grandson of Evelyn Waugh and the son of columnist Auberon Waugh and novelist Teresa Waugh. He has been the opera critic at the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard and has written several books on music, as well as Time (1999) and God (2002). He is at work on a book about the Wittgenstein family centering on Paul, the world-famous one-handed pianist. He lives in Somerset, England, with his wife, two daughters and one son, Bron.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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