At War With Waugh

W. F. Deedes

01 August 2013
144 pages


History, both political and literary, was made when W. F. Deedes met Evelyn Waugh in 1935. Both were in Abyssinia to cover a war which many in England regarded with bewildered indifference but which profoundly influenced an impending global conflict. Whilst Deedes was principally concerned with filing copy to London, the author of Brideshead Revisited had another agenda and another novel in mind, Scoop.

As Waugh drank, played poker and observed hacks in seedy hotel bars in Addis Ababa, he focussed on one young reporter. W. F. Deedes has always denied his association with Scoop's Boot, the innocent abroad and nature-notes writer who is accidentally dispatched to a war-zone. However, he acknowledges some similarities - particularly the tonnage of kit he shipped from London.

Bill Deedes considers that 'little' war and its importance with the hindsight of a further sixty-odd years of impeccably thoughtful reporting from other battlefields, whilst offering unique memories of his difficult contemporary - arguably the finest English novelist of his time. Written with characteristic wit, insight and affection, At War With Waugh is a small classic.

‘A fascinating memoir. . . full of well-observed detail and wonderful throwaway asides’ Hugh Massingberd, Daily Telegraph