Brideshead Revisited First Edition to sell at Bonhams



2016-10-25 13:06:46

A first edition copy of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel Brideshead Revisited will be offered at Bonhams next month.

The rare volume is expected to sell for up to £6,000, as part of a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts in London on November 9.

Having finished his 10th novel in 1944, Waugh had just 50 copies printed and bound at his own expense, which he then sent out to close friends to gain their opinions.

The copy offered at Bonhams was originally sent to Lady Pansy Pakenham, who had previously shared a flat with Waugh's first wife Evelyn Gardner in the 1920s.

Pakenham was one of the so-called 'Bright Young Things' – a generation of young aristocrats who grew up during the inter-war years and scandalised their parents with their decadent behaviour.

Waugh had previously celebrated the group in his 1930 novel Vile Bodies, and they also featured heavily in the opening chapters of Brideshead Revisited.

However, by the time Waugh sent her his novel, Packenham had turned her back on London society, having married portrait painter Henry Lamb and moved out to rural Wiltshire – and her comments were perhaps not what he was expecting:

"You see English Society of the 20s as something baroque and magnificent on its last legs.... I fled from it because it seemed prosperous, bourgeois and practical and I believe it still is."

"Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited in the first half of 1944 while on special leave of absence from the Army," said Luke Batterham Senior Specialist at Bonhams Book Department.

"Convinced of the book's qualities but cautious about the reaction of his contemporaries to a novel so different from his earlier work, Waugh took the precaution of seeking the opinion of friends and made substantial changes as a result. Pansy Pakenham's objection, however, went to the heart of the novel and unsurprisingly was not heeded."

Earlier this year, another first edition of the book from the author's initial print run crossed the block at Sotheby's. Having originally been gifted to Deborah Mittford, Duchess of Devonshire, the book sold from her personal collection some 70 years later for £52,500.

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