A new biography of author Evelyn Waugh claims he had three gay relationships while studying at Oxford in the 1920s.
Waugh, whose most famous works were Brideshead Revisited and Scoop, was described as “one of the great bisexual authors” by biographer Paula Byrne.
In the book, titled ‘Mad World: Evelyn Waugh And The Secrets of Brideshead’, Byrne says Waugh had an “acute homosexual phase”.
According to the Daily Mail, she said: “He had what he called an ‘acute homosexual phase’ when he was at Oxford, like most Oxford men in the twenties. It was not particularly unusual, particularly because women were not permitted to go to Oxford.
“It was very much perceived as acceptable as long as it was a phase you grew out of when you left Oxford. He used to joke to friends who hadn’t had a gay phase that they had missed out on something. He said it was like fermenting wine, in order to prepare you for later on – for being married.”
Many have speculated whether Waugh was gay, but Bryne is adamant.
“It’s true that perhaps previous biographers have skirted round the issue – did he or didn’t he? – but he absolutely, unquestionably did,” she said.
Byrne claims that the author had gay affairs with Richard Pares, Alistair Graham and Hugh Lygon between 1921 and 1924, saying that these helped shape his future works.
Lygon was one of two students at Oxford known to carry a teddybear in the manner of Brideshead Revisited’s Sebastian Flyte, but died in a car accident in 1938. The other was John Betjeman.
It has already been suggested that Waugh and Pares had an affair, but Byrne says her information is new. She claims that diary entries and letters between Waugh and Graham prove the two were sexually involved.