Knowing I had a publisher for my Enid Blyton book, I thought I'd have a go at Evelyn Waugh. He was the author whose books I most enjoyed as a teenager in the 1970s. In order to reassess Waugh’s work in the first decade of the 21st century, I travelled with Kate to the places in which Waugh lived and loved in the early decades of the 20th.

Conville and Walsh couldn't find a publisher for it in 2007. But in 2011, on the back of being shortlised for the Orwell Prize for Blogs, the enterprising Simon Petherick of Beautiful Books signed it up. Alas, the company went into administration in the month when the book was due to appear. Frustrated by the knock back, I set up an
Evelyn Waugh website to draw attention to the existence of the manuscript, but the website soon took on a life of its own: an online biography of Evelyn Waugh is taking shape where, in my opinion, each phase of Waugh's life is given enough space so that the relevant Evelyn can be fully encountered.

The book eventually appeared four years later thanks to Jeremy Beale at Harbour Books. Jeremy who I'll always be grateful to for praising my first manuscript and publishing my fourth book when he was the m.d. at Quartet Books.


Rhapsody for an Obsessive Love
Harbour Books (12//05/2015)

evelyn! final cover - Version 2

On the front flap comes the blurb:

'Evelyn Waugh is remembered for
Brideshead Revisited and for comic novels such as Decline and Fall and Scoop. Often Waugh's own life provided inspiration for his fiction and equally often the experiences he was writing about were far from joyful. Vile Bodies and A Handful of Dust grew out of heartache. Duncan McLaren charts the way Waugh's life feeds into his novels in a biography that is as surprising and funny as Waugh's own work. This is far from conventional biography. McLaren reacts to his discoveries, rhapsodies Waugh's work, retraces his steps and even re-enacts some events. Evelyn! Is irreverent but full of insight - this tis remarkable portrait of a writer's life - written with humour that is itself a tribute to Evelyn Waugh.'

And on the back is a quote from a later generation of Waugh:

evelyn! final cover

Details of the launch event can be found

Amazon listing