AUDREY LUCAS

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An interview between Audrey Lucas (1897-1975) and Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was to be a principle attraction of the Brideshead Festival at Castle Howard this year. With the cancellation of the Festival, sadly the official talk will no longer happen, but Nancy and Audrey have agreed to release the transcript of a conversation they recorded in the lead up to the event in April 2020. As you'll see, it leads to a solo investigation by Nancy Mitford…

Ghost writing by Duncan McLaren



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Nancy Mitford ….Audrey Lucas



ONE

NM: "I'm guessing you knew Evelyn before I did. I met him in 1928, through Evelyn Gardner, shortly before the release of
Decline and Fall. You…"

AL: "I met him on Christmas Day of 1924 at his parents' house in Golders Green. He notes in his diary that he wasn't looking forward to an evening with three women. Then the next day he says that, actually, he quite enjoyed the evening. I think what took him by surprise was my literary connections. Father was friends with J.M.Barrie, Conan Doyle and A. A. Milne. So he found himself having dinner with a girl raised in a house that was even more of a literary salon than his own."

NM: "Evelyn was about to start teaching in Wales at the time?"

AL: "Yes. Over the next few weeks he attended an interview, in between lunching and partying with the London crowd, particularly me, Alastair Graham and Olivia Plunket Greene. I should say that within a few days of meeting Evelyn I was whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Unfortunately, these were not reciprocated and the ear he was whispering sweet nothings into belonged to Olivia. Anyway, by the end of January he went off to North Wales and I fell back on my relationship with Harold Scott who I was appearing with in a J.M. Barrie production in the West End. However, I did see Evelyn again at Easter in a way I'm unlikely to forget."

NM: "Do tell."

AL: "We had arranged to meet for lunch at Hatchett's, but there was a complication on my side and I wasn't there. Evelyn lunched alone, and that's when his day's drinking started. He went on to bump into a friend at the Savile, then bought some bottles of champagne which he took to Olivia's at tea time. By all accounts very drunk by this stage, he went on with Tony Bushell for dinner at Previtai's. Tony and Evelyn shuttled between the 1917 Club and the 50-50, ending up the evening at Olivia's where they found me. Evelyn was quite incredibly drunk by this time. Which some people found hilarious - he could, as you know, be most entertaining - but for which I felt some responsibility. I was assured by mutual friends that what I was observing was the letting off of steam following the end of what had been a harrowing first term of teaching. But I still felt guilty. All the more so when I later discovered that when he left Hanover Terrace he walked three miles south to Hammersmith instead of north to Golders Green and home. When I realised what had happened, I wrote a letter to Evelyn, begging him not to get drunk like that again. Next, I discovered that two days later, he arranged a party. Evelyn and a friend pub-crawled there way to pick up the wine and pub-crawled there way with the wine to the party. En route they were arrested for being drunk, and both spent the night in the cells. Well, no, Evelyn was let out very late, but by the time he made it to the party at 3am it had broken up."

NM: "So Evelyn was out of control?"

AL: "He was being driven absolutely bonkers by disappointment, which arose from the fact that his sense of entitlement was not being satisfied!"

NM: "The sense of entitlement that came with being a clever young man recently down from Oxford where he had hob-nobbed with other clever young men."

AL: "Oxford. That distinguished place where clever young men bumped into each other on a daily basis."

NM: "Invariably drunk."

AL: "You said it."

NM: "I regret not having been there. Hardly a letter was sent from me to Evelyn after the war that didn't somehow allude to my sense of intellectual inferiority."

AL: "You could say we self-identified as intellectually inferior. I think that when we say 'Evelyn' this morning, that is a kind of code for 'gender issues'."

NM: "Let's make it so. My first two books featured men, educated at Oxford, who were high-achieving creatives. In
Highland Fling, my protagonist, Albert Gates, was based on Robert Byron and named after his obsession with the Victorian era. Albert was a talented painter who, on going down from Oxford, set up a studio in Paris where he painted obsessively, before getting embroiled with the other characters in upper class Scotland. The book ends with an exhibition of his work in London. Then, in Christmas Pudding, my protagonist, Paul Fotheringay, named in tribute to Waugh's Paul Pennyfeather, goes to the countryside in pursuit of his next book… Why wasn't I writing about young women embarking on their creative lives?"

AL: "Because we didn't think it was our place. Women couldn't do anything we thought of as worthwhile. We were there simply to support the ambitions of clever men. When I think about it in retrospect, I was in a terrible position. First, my overbearing father was my mentor. Then the charming J.M. Barrie, much-worshipped author of
Peter Pan. Followed by Evelyn, who could be so funny. Not to mention my two egotistical husbands who were fellow actors."

NM: "You poor thing. We were all poor things, with the possible exception of my sister, Diana. Though even she had to marry one of those clever young men from Oxford before slowly finding her own feet. But even in her case, what did she do but saddle herself with a charismatic politician."

AL: "Let me tell you about my third novel,
Life Class, issued in 1935. It was a comment on all this. The main character, Matthew Lenox, was effectively Evelyn Waugh. He had written one successful novel, called Bright Fear, and he was wondering what to write about next. His sister and mother were scathing about his first book and encouraged him to learn a bit more about life before writing anything else.'

NM: "If that was a side-swipe at
Decline and Fall, I have to say that I love that book."

AL: "I think by the time I wrote
Life Class, Evelyn had written Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Black Mischief and A Handful of Dust. I wasn't saying these novels were bad. I was just saying that they focussed on the feelings of a very privileged individual and his set. What about the ordinary man and woman? Life Class was set in a boarding house where Mathew Lenox went to live in order to observe 'ordinary' life. But Matthew was not the protagonist of my book any more than the couple who ran the boarding house, or the daughter who first attracted Mathew's attention, or the henpecked husband and his bullying wife who stayed there, or the lonely spinster, or the Indian guests, or the cleaning woman, or the cook."

NM: "I realise Mathew Lenox was not the book's protagonist, but he plays a leading role in its plot. I note that his name is very similar to the Hamish Lennox of Evelyn's
A Little Learning. Is that a coincidence? I mean that you used the name Lenox to refer to Evelyn Waugh and Evelyn used the name Lennox to refer to Alastair Graham?"

AL: "I've wondered about that myself. First, I don't think Evelyn read my book. He didn't review it, and it wasn't in his library at his death. The only book of mine that was in his library was
E.V Lucas, a tribute to my father that was published after his death in 1938. But I do seem to remember discussing the use of pseudonyms with Evelyn when I got to know him again in 1930. I think we agreed that a character's name is important, especially when a book is being written, so the name should be chosen with care and often has hidden significance."

NM: "Did knowing Evelyn in 1930 feed into your book in other ways? When he picks up his diary again in that year, having been silent since the split with Evelyn Gardner, your name crops up several times, briefly but revealingly. At the end of May, there is the line
'Audrey says she is going to have a baby. I don't much care either way really, so long as it is a boy.'

AL: "That says it all really."

NM: "Let's tease out what it does mean."

AL: "It implies that if I had been pregnant, Evelyn and I would have got married. Not without some difficulty, as I was still married to Harold at the time, but married. Neither of us knew any single mothers. All children were
brought up by two parents. Furthermore, it recognises what we're talking about today, that the world - certainly in 20th Century England - was set up for boys not girls, men not women."

NM: "On the 6th of June, you, Evelyn, Diana drove down to Pool Place for the weekend. You felt ill all weekend, apparently."

AL: "I thought I was pregnant. But I had no faith in the strength of Evelyn's bond with me. He had made it clear that he loved the unattainable woman going by the name of Teresa Jungman."

NM: "The next mention is June 19. You had dinner with him during which you revealed that you weren't pregnant. Evelyn's comment was:
'So that is all bogus.'

AL: "The bogus baby! Thank God that didn't happen."

NM: "The diary entry goes on to say that he waited hours for the party at your place to disperse, so that he could sleep with you. But that when it came to it, you were too tired."

AL: "Too tired! Too upset by his cold response to the news that we weren't going to have a baby. Although on one level I was relieved, on another I was disappointed. Tired doesn't even come close to describing my feelings."

AL: "In
Life Class, there is a troubled character called Doris who is general dogsbody at the boarding house. She has a boy friend who gives her precious little love. She knows he wants to sleep with her, but she is concerned that he will lose interest if he does get his way in this. She is not a virgin, having been sexually assaulted when she was a minor, and when one day she tells him this, she realises from his reaction that she has done the wrong thing. Sure enough, she finds herself under more pressure to give in to his advances, and he callously withdraws his affection once the deed is done."

NM: "So typical and so sad. Although the situation between Evelyn and yourself was not the same, it could be said that he was abusing the power imbalance between you. I'm thinking of his comments in August of 1930. First:
'Audrey wants more money. I said no.' Then two days later, 'Audrey seems to bear very little malice for my refusal to give her money.'

AL: "In other words I let him fuck me."

NM: "You let him fuck you for free."

AL: "I let the bestselling author of
Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Black Mischief and A Handful of Dust, fuck me for free."

NM: "Shall we take a break?"



TWO

Nancy Mitford has a productive 48 hours, alone in her Castle Howard Cottage, reading
Black Mischief (1932) Life Class (1936) and Put Out More Flags (1942). One book written by Audrey Lucas, and two featuring her as the character 'Angela Lyne'.

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As Nancy reads, she bears in mind something Evelyn wrote to a prospective author in 1938, having read his first novel in manuscript:
'I am afraid I found Ridgway a great bore - the pseudo-Bohemian of the film - Beloved Vagabond type, and, I am sure, not drawn from the life.' Drawing from the life. That is key if characters are to live and breathe in the minds of readers. Clearly that's what Evelyn found. It's what Nancy found as well.

Black Mischief, Evelyn's third novel, is the first to have a man of the world as protagonist. Evelyn was able to do this because of his relationship with Audrey in 1930, in which he was the dominant partner. Angela doesn't have a big role in the book. She is married (she's referred to a couple of times as 'Mrs Lyne', though her husband is neither referred to nor named), the woman who has financially supported Basil Seal in his attempts at becoming a parliamentary candidate. In 1930, Audrey was still married to Harold Scott, and so Mrs Scott would have been her official title. Angela Lyne remains besotted with Basil and phones his mother 15 times one evening in an effort to speak to him.

In the longest scene in
Black Mischief that features Angela, indeed the only main scene that does so, Basil and Angela are in bed before Basil's journey to Africa. She has made out a cheque to him so that asking for this doesn't dominate their evening together. Of course, when Evelyn went to Africa in 1930, he was the one with the money and it was perhaps Evelyn that left a cheque for Audrey the last night they spent together.

By the time Audrey wrote
Life Class in 1935, she had divorced Harold Scott and married another actor, Douglas Clarke- Smith. She has her Evelyn character, Matthew Lenox, live in a house in Chertsey, where Audrey was living when she wrote Life Class. Mathew Lenox has a sister, Kate, who seems to be more in touch with the ordinary person than Matthew. In other words, that the sister might make the better author, is the sub-text of this. The hen-pecked Edgar Prince, a character from the boarding house that Mathew Lenox is studying, ends up driving to Chertsey one day. Kate chances upon him, takes him under her wing, shows him the garden and allows him to come alive in a way that very much surprises Mathew when he hears about it.

Nancy intends to come back to
Life Class, as and when it throws light on Audrey Lucas's relationship with Evelyn Waugh. But she must push on with her reading.



Put Out More Flags, written in a troop ship coming back to the UK from the Middle East, is the book that defines Angela Lyne. She is first encountered by the reader in the 'Autumn' section of the book (pages 30-36 of the first edition), returning to London by train from the French Riviera in autumn of 1939. It was in Monte Carlo that Evelyn and Audrey had a two-week holiday together in spring of 1930 (the year that Audrey thought she might be pregnant by Evelyn). But it is nearby Cannes that Angela is returning from. She is described as being the only daughter of a Scottish millionaire. Audrey was an only daughter, and her family did have Scottish roots as is made clear by the Lenox family scenes in a chapter of Life Class. As Put Out More Flags gets under way, Angela has been in love with Basil for seven years. This is not quite the same length of time as Audrey's feelings for Evelyn, but what's in a number?

Angela also features in a long scene in the 'Winter' section of
Put Out More Flags. She is living alone in a spacious, new, fifth floor flat in Grosvenor Square, where nations have their embassies in London. She drinks alone, using an electric shaker (she likes gadgets) on her vodka and calvados cocktails before going out to a party hosted by Margot Metroland (a character based on Evelyn Gardner's sister, Alathea, first introduced in Decline and Fall). Before exiting, she considers her reflection:

'She noticed in the last intense scrutiny before her mirrors that her mouth was beginning to droop a little at the corners. It was not the disappointed pout that she knew in so many of her friends; it was as the droop you sometimes saw in death masks, when the jaw had been set and the face had stiffened in lines which told those waiting round the bed that the will to live was gone.'

At the party, Angela doesn't drink alcohol. But back home afterwards, she has a bath while drinking two glasses of whisky and water. She goes to bed, where she takes Dial sleeping tablets.

This scene brings to Nancy's mind one of the characters in
Life Class. Irene Masters is a very plain young woman, lonely to the point of suicidal depression. This extract is from the middle of the book:

'She saw the emptiness of indulging in a silly passion for a married man almost unaware of her existence. She knew that when she ceased to see John Howard every day the memory of what she had felt for him wouldn't be any use to her at all. There would be nothing to remember. Not one affectionate word or gesture of his to recall. Not a joke shared between them. Not a secret. Not a letter. Nothing.'

Not that this applies to Audrey and Evelyn. Didn't Audrey have some specific memories of Monte Carlo? Of partying with Evelyn in both 1925 and 1930? Of being with him at Nancy's sister's place on the south coast?

Life Class continues with empathy for the unloved:

'
Life was merely blank. An endless repetition of the same thing - getting up, washing, cleaning one's teeth, dressing, having breakfast, going to the office, reading the morning paper, working, going out to lunch, returning to the office, drinking, at four o'clock, strong tea that made one's nose red, returning from the office, reading the evening paper, washing, dining, going to the cinema, and then taking off the clothes that in so few hours had to be put on again. And going to bed. It was endless and what was the use of it?'

Nancy's tentative overview of her reading: Evelyn wrote about Audrey, calling her Angela. Audrey wrote about Audrey, calling her Irene. The sadness feels overwhelming. Not something that Nancy feels she could discuss with Audrey, face to face. Hence her solitary study, which is ongoing. There's a second scene involving Angela Lyne in the 'Spring' section of
Put Out More Flags. Again, she is at home, drinking:

'She often spoke aloud to herself nowadays, living, as she did, so much alone; it was thus that lonely old women spoke, passing in the street with bags of rubbish in their hands, squatting, telling their rubbish. Angela was like an old woman squatting in a doorway picking over her day’s gleaning of rubbish, talking to herself while she sorted the scraps of garbage. She had seen and heard old women like that, often, at the end of the day, in the side streets near the theatre.

'Now she said to herself as loudly as though to someone sitting opposite on the white Empire day-bed, “Maginot Line - Angela Lyne - both lines of least resistance” and laughed at her joke until the tears came and suddenly she found herself weeping in earnest.’

Angela realises she should go out, so goes to the cinema. But she ends up having to be picked up off the pavement by Peter Pastmaster (Margot Metroland's son, first introduced in Decline and Fall), and his girl-friend. They take her home to Grosvenor Square and Angela points out the portrait of her by Augustus John that decorates the flat. He's referred to simply as 'John' while 'David Lennox' also gets a mention. The latter is Evelyn's codename for Cecil Beaton, again surviving from Decline and Fall. Once again, characters in a book can be related to real people, that's why they seem to live. But in this case no need to change (Augustus) John's name, as nothing exactly libellous is being said. His painting is supposed to be from ten years before, say 1930. In which case this painting of Tallalulah Bankhead fits the bill.

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Tallalulah Bankhead by Augustus John

It's still 'Spring' when Basil drops in on Angela, drinking alone. This is worth quoting at length, so Nancy intends to do that. Angela goes into the bathroom to have a sly drink.

"Angela," said Basil, "If you want a drink you might drink fair with a chap."

"I don't know what you mean," she said.

Basil was shocked. There had never been any humbug about Angela, none where he was concerned, anyway.

"Oh come off it," he said.

Angela came off it. She began to weep.


Basil is at pains to be empathetic, but he can't help saying:

"You were always bloody to me when I had a bat."

"Yes, I suppose I was. I'm sorry. But then you see I was in love with you."

"Was?"

"Oh, I don't know. Fill up the glasses, Basil."


Now that Basil knows what's going on with Angela, he resolves to help her. As a result, he drinks a little more than usual, and she a little less.

One last scene in 'Spring' to discuss. It's where we're introduced to Angela's ex-husband, Cedric, who was not part of Evelyn's thinking when
Black Mischief was written. His history is rapidly filled in, then he visits Angela in her flat accompanied by their 8-year-old son. Again the David Lennox 'grisailles' are mentioned disparagingly. And we learn that 'John' had been a terrible nuisance about the sittings and that it had been very hard to make the man finish the painting. The huge ego of the male painter, very much of his time, comes over in this photo:

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Tallalulah Bankhead and Augustus John in the foreground. Tallalulah Bankhead by Augustus John in the background.

Yes, in
Put Out More Flags, Evelyn decides to give a name to Angela's ex-husband and to flesh him out. Cedric is 35, the same age as Evelyn was in 1940. Indeed, Evelyn's early war experience crops up in three of the novel's main characters. Alastair and Sonia are Evelyn and Laura during the author's enthusiastic and naive days of officer training, when the pair would often meet up. Cedric reflects Evelyn's experience as an intelligence officer a year on. And Basil is partly Evelyn and partly based on Nancy Mitford's husband, Peter Rodd. As Nancy has already established, the character Ambrose is a direct representation of Brian Howard, and, as is being explored here, Angela Lyne was to some extent based on Audrey Lucas. Oh yes, these characters are drawn from life. That's why they seem so full of it.

Of course, there are limits to this. Angela is rich, whereas Audrey was not rich. A penniless lover would have been no use to Basil in
Black Mischief. However, Angela loves an unattainable man, which was Audrey's experience with Evelyn, who came and went as he pleased. Did the pain of this cause Audrey to turn to alcohol? That is something Nancy feels she can't really ask Audrey. However, both Olivia Plunket Greene and Mary Lygon (Maimie) became alcoholics and displayed alcohol dependency in front of Evelyn. So he wouldn't have had difficulty coming up with scenes of this nature.

Perhaps it's not surprising that Cedric is killed in action. Indeed, Nancy feels he was brought to life in order to be sacrificed. In the last, short section of
Put Out More Flags, Angela hears about Cedric's death and talks to Basil about marriage. But this is put over in short scenes.

The novel came out in 1942 and was well-received. Did Audrey read it? Where had she got to by then in her own life?

By 1939 or so, Audrey had stopped writing novels and begun working for the BBC World Service. She adapted literary classics into pieces that could be performed for radio. A novel by E. Nesbit for Children's Hour. Also
Vanity Fair by Thackeray and Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens for prime listening slots. The adaptation of Vanity Fair starred her second husband, Douglas Clarke-Smith and it was produced by Moray McLaren, who would go on to be helped by Evelyn after the war.

However, Audrey's relationship with Douglas Clarke-Smith came to an end in the early forties. He married someone else in 1945, by which time Audrey had taken up with John Cheatle, who produced Audrey's version of the Lord Peter Wimsey story, originally written by Dorothy L Sayers,
The Man With No Face. Apparently, Cheatle was an inspirational figure, a spontaneously creative live-wire who took a hands-on approach to his radio productions.

Audrey and John were living together at 44 Gloucester Place, central London, when tragedy stuck. Cheatle gassed himself, apparently worried that his drinking was putting his job with the BBC at risk. How did Audrey respond to this dreadful thing? Well, we don't know, but in
Life Class she had written about Irene Masters attempt to gas herself:

'What a fool she was not to have thought of death before. If she were dead, what would the storm matter?…She took the eiderdown and the pillow from the bed and turned out the light. Carrying eiderdown and pillow she fumbled her way to the gas-fire and turned it on. She put the pillow on the floor very close to the fire indeed and lay down, making a tent of the eiderdown over her head, with her face as close to the gas as possible….Then she relaxed. She had a feeling of restfulness and relief. A hope that she would not make such a mess of this as she did of everything else….And suddenly a choking and stifling sense of terror. But she stayed where she was.'

Audrey had written that in 1935, eight years before her lover's suicide attempt. Irene was saved by the intervention of the man she loved from afar, a capable older man. But there was no such saviour for John Cheatle.

Was it Audrey who found John's body? How did she feel in the aftermath of his death? Nancy doesn't know. Audrey no longer lived at the Gloucester Place address according to an official document listing her as of no address.

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She had left the BBC World Service, at least Nancy could not find any credits after 1943. Indeed, at that point, Audrey Lucas disappears from the public record, though she lived until 1973.

In 1943, Audrey would have been 46, perhaps it had felt too late to start again. Perhaps she felt that she simply couldn't start again. Did she retreat to the country and devote herself to her garden? Nancy doesn't know and doesn't think she can ask Audrey. Nancy's own correspondence with Evelyn had begun in 1944 and had gone on continuously until Evelyn's death in 1966. But there had been no letters to spare for Audrey. Not a single one.

What can Nancy ask Audrey Lucas when they meet up again later in the day? Nancy doesn't know. All she knows is that right now she needs to lie down on her bed and shed a tear for her sister.



THREE

NM: "Did you see the state of Robert last night? The only sensible thing he said was that
Put Out More Flags was Evelyn's best book because he was getting by on an ordinary seaman's rum ration all the time that he wrote it."

AL: "Henry was just as bad. What did they call their drunken rambling?"

NM: "
Waiting For Evelyn."

AL: "Yes, well I suppose we're all doing that in our different ways."

NM: "I finished
Life Class this morning. A superb ensemble production, if I may say so. What I mean is, I felt I knew and cared about all the characters by the end of the book, that each had his or her individual humanity."

AL: "Thank-you."

NM: "The final scene involving your Evelyn character, Mathew Lenox, made me smile. Can I read out your actual words?"

AL: "Please do. I'm flattered."

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NM: "OK, this happens on Bank Holiday Monday after Irene's rescue from her suicide attempt on the Sunday:
'A dramatic incident had occurred and he did not know why. What was the use of that? And how could any novelist commercialise real life stories when everyone concerned preserved so dreary a reticence? It was hardly fair. Mathew began to wonder whether he might do better with travel books.'"

AL: "Oops. I shouldn't be smiling at my own work."

NM: "Nonsense. It's a triumph. I particularly like the episode where Edgar Prince drives out of London and happens to park the car near the Lenox property in Chertsey. That's where you lived when you were writing the book, of course. Mathew's sister is so kind to Edgar. And she discovers that they share a love of flowers, so she gives him a guided tour of the garden. Let me read that passage:

"The sweet Williams are good, aren't they?" She pointed out a corner entirely filled with these hardy and joyous flowers.

"Lovely! Edgar's voice was reverent. "
Lovely."

He stooped down to examine a clump of candy-tuft, "A lot of people don't grow this. I like it myself."

"Yes, it's a darling flower. We've planted heaps this year. So very good for picking. I hope you're not one of those people who think flowers shouldn't be picked."

"Not me! I like to see them about the house myself. It's half the pleasure. There's a fine phlox! Blood-red you'd call it, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, isn't it a beauty? These beds under the windows we keep specially for things that smell nice."

Edgar looked with approval at night-stock and mignonettes, with tall tobacco plants behind them. He passed on to gaze adoringly at delphiniums, shaded from azure to violet-tinted sapphire; at stocks of more varied colours than he had previously believed possible. Larkspurs, slender and brilliant, campanulas, poppies, Canterbury bells. Snapdragons in profusion, early dahlias, a cloud of love-in-a-mist. Flaming nasturtiums, heliotrope, with its retiring appearance and exquisite scent, a mass of roses, both ramblers and standards. His breath was all but taken away…'


AL: "Oh, please stop there. It reminds me of the garden at Frithwal - that was the name of the house at Chertsey - where I lived with my second husband, Douglas. And of course I was drawing on that experience when I wrote those paragraphs."

NM: "It comes as a relief from the drab boarding house in central London. Poor Irene."

AL: "Poor Irene. Poor John and Eve. Poor Jessie Prince, even though she was an idiot. Poor Georgina, even."

NM: "Were you pleased with the reaction to the book at the time?"

AL: "Not really. It didn't get widely reviewed. All my career - certainly the plays I had produced and the novels I had published - I could have done with a bit more marketing behind me. But I can't complain - not in a century (the 20th I mean) - of such invisibility for female talent. Of course, the reason that I had any visibility at all was because of my father. He introduced me to books, to other writers, some of them brilliant, and he instilled standards in my developing mind. So that by the time I was twenty I felt I could get by in any literary company. I always knew I was going to be
a writer."

NM: "What about after the war?"

AL: "Oh, no! You don't get an answer to that so easily. But I know that you were the recipient of hunderds of letters from Evelyn, starting in 1944, and that your own output of novels reached another level post-WW2. I would love to get some insight into how your friendship with Evelyn helped or hindered. And what did he write to you about other women writers? Did he write anything? Or was it all just jokes about Graham Greene's and Cyril Connolly's love lives?"

NM: "Certainly, there's a thing or two I could tell you about Graham Greene's peccadillos, thanks to Evelyn. And if you get me started on Smarty Boots Connolly then we'll be here all day."

AL: "Fine by me."

NM (sighing): "Oh, this is just so
relaxing."

AL (smiling): "Better than
Waiting For Evelyn?"

NM (smiling widely): "So much less pompous and better scented than
Waiting For Evelyn."

AL: "We shall have a dance, Nancy. And then we will enjoy tea served in a laburnum-patterned tea set. And only then will we resume our delicious conversation."

NM: "What a plan. Dance with me, Audrey!"

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Nancy Mitford by Cecil Beaton

They dance.

Where do they dance to? To
here, of course.





Notes

1) My previous effort at putting over the importance of Audrey Lucas in Evelyn Waugh's life can be found
here.