24 June 2014

The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh

Roman Catholic reactionary badass
Introduction to the Project

The Complete Works project is working with Oxford University Press to print all Waugh's extant writings and graphic art: novels, biographies, travel writing, short fiction, essays, articles, reportage, reviews, letters (about 85% of which are currently unpublished), diaries, poems, juvenilia, parerga, drawings and designs in 42 beautifully crafted volumes. It's quite an undertaking - and a very exciting one.

The project will revolutionise Waugh studies and influence twentieth-century literary and cultural studies more broadly too. The expert editors of our new volumes will place Waugh’s works within their rich literary and historical context, enabling us to greatly expand our knowledge of the range and complexity of Waugh's thinking and artistic practice, linking this to the work of his contemporaries in Britain, America and Europe. No other edition of a British novelist has been undertaken on this scale.

Our editors have been given permission by the Evelyn Waugh Estate to quote freely from the writer's published and unpublished materials, a privilege never before available to Waugh scholars.

The Complete Works project was initiated by Alexander Waugh, Waugh's grandson, who curates the massive Evelyn Waugh Archive at his home in Somerset. Alexander is the edition's General Editor. Professor David Bradshaw and I then became involved as Co-Executive Editors, submitting a successful bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support the work.

As I am Principal Investigator, the project is based at the University of Leicester. Cutting-edge digital humanities technology, driven by our Research Associate Dr Barbara Cooke, is at the heart of what we are doing, using this website as a research tool and global seminar space for our editors, Waugh students and enthusiasts alike. Anyone who has anything to add to Waugh's story is encouraged to use the Waugh Forum and comment on the project blog, Waugh and Words. We have also pulled together the best Waugh resources on the web, and are working on some new ones ourselves, in order to make the best range of research and study materials available in one place. Back in the physical world, the International Conference 2015, the Book Club, and all our Project Partner events over the next four years are open to the public.

In my early years at Leicester I edited Evelyn Waugh: The Critical Heritage (1984), and wrote a two-volume biography of Waugh (1986, 1992). Since then I've worked on other authors - Ford Madox Ford and Muriel Spark in particular - but it is a great delight to return to Waugh and we hope that all those who become involved with this research, at whatever level, will find equal pleasure in his writing. No matter how well-read you are in Evelyn Waugh, you're bound to discover reams of new material in our planned edition. Those unpublished letters and unexpurgated diaries might cause quite a stir. Watch out for the first volumes in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of Waugh's death.

Although work proper on the edition began in 2009, the groundwork was laid a long time before and the project is in many ways the culmination of half a century of Waugh studies. In 1967 Paul. A. Doyle published the first Evelyn Waugh Newsletter, which year by year amassed details of all the primary and secondary Evelyn Waugh material its contributors could find. This project could not be possible without the work of Doyle and his colleagues, particularly Robert Murray Davis and Donat Gallagher, who are now editors on our new edition of The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh.

Martin Stannard
Professor of Modern English Literature
School of English
University of Leicester

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shame, there's not more of this sort of thing being done, might save the country from becoming a CESSPIT!! FAST!!!