Basil Seal Rides Again or The Rake's Regress.
WAUGH Evelyn (1963.)
£3000.00 [First Edition]
INSCRIBED FOR NANCY MITFORD
With a colour frontispiece by Kathleen Hale. First edition, one of 750 copies signed by the author, this copy un-numbered. 4to., original blue cloth. London, Chapman & Hall.
In place of numbering on the colophon, Waugh has added "For Nancy with love from Evelyn". Spine quite badly faded, otherwise fine.
In a letter dated 26th October 1963, Nancy thanked Waugh for the present copy, but said that “I’m afraid that, in literature at any rate, middle-aged people become dull” and added, rather absurdly, “do you think being brother and sister would have really stopped them marrying?”. Waugh, as Nancy must surely have anticipated, reacted strongly: “Your odious letter was on my breakfast table on the morning of my 60th birthday…..A sharp reminder that my powers are fading and that I am a bore”….”Your family, if reports at the time were true, were peculiarly tolerant of incest”. Nancy fought back, but ended her next letter “live another 60 years please”. As it turned out, Waugh only lived another three years.
Waugh and Nancy Mitford were friends for some forty years, initially through Nancy's close friendship with Evelyn Gardner, Waugh’s first wife. They drifted apart somewhat during Nancy’s marriage to the erratic Peter Rodd and became close again when Nancy worked at Heywood Hill's bookshop during the Second World War. Nancy moved in 1945 to Paris and thereafter their friendship was mainly conducted through wonderfully entertaining letters. The friendship thrived on absence: both were sharp-tongued and liked to have the last word, and when they met in person, they tended to quarrel.
Stock Code: 233576