In a slight departure for me, I’ve been reading biography rather than memoir this week. The book was Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. More secrets! I was attracted to this because Brideshead Revisited is one of my top ten favourite novels. Wanting to know more about its author and if Brideshead was in any way autobiographical, I Googled about until I came across Paula’s book. Mad World refers to Madresfield Court, the home of the Lygon family. Brideshead was largely and affectionately inspired by this family who took Waugh into their bosom and their ancestral home. I had no idea and it was gripping! I’ve now bought Waugh’s diaries, letters and the first volume of his autobiography. Sadly he died before he could finish the second volume.
But before I continue delving into Waugh’s world, I’m on a bit of a Somerset Maugham mission. This has been brought about by the birth of Whitstable’s very first literary festival WhitLit, coming to our town in 2014! Somerset Maugham is a writer I’ve always been aware of and since he lived in Whitstable as a child and there will be a Maugham element to the festival, I thought I better find out more. I have ordered Of Human Bondage, one of his novels, which was free on Kindle, inwhich Maugham calls Whitstable Blackstable. And The Secret Lives Of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings.
Will I be having a role in WhitLit? Yes, I am delighted to say I shall be on the management committee, putting something very special together.
What is it? That’s a secret but when I can tell, you’ll be the first to know…