Hev, Shev and John

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The Evelyns got back from their disastrous cruise at the end of May, 1929. Evelyn immediately went off on his own to Beckely to begin Vile Bodies, while She-Evelyn returned to the flat at Canonbury Square. The Evelyns met at weekends in June, but during the week She-Evelyn went to parties, chaperoned by John Heygate who the Evelyns had known since around the time of their marriage a year before. In the middle of July, Evelyn received a letter from she-Evelyn saying that she had fallen in love with John Heygate and didn’t know what to do.

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I’m not sure if the three of them actually met then to have it out. I think not. But Alexander Waugh has told me that Evelyn’s mother’s unpublished diary reveals that on the weekend of July 16, 1929, John Heygate and She-Evelyn drove to Beckley instead of Waugh coming down to London for the weekend. I think that was before the letter though, while things were still ostensibly chummy between the three of them. Anyway, Waugh came to London for a couple of weeks, Heygate was persona non grata, and the Evelyns went everywhere together. But then when Evelyn went back to his self-imposed, novel-writing exile again, She-Evelyn was back partying with handsome Heygate and a picture of the happy couple appeared in the press. Waugh saw it and that was that.

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John Heygate had gone on holiday to Europe with Anthony Powell when the latter received a telegram from Waugh saying, ‘Instruct Heygate return immediately Waugh.’ Evelyn had made up his mind that he no longer wanted his adulterous wife. Heygate could have her!

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Waugh wrote to Henry Yorke in September about the extent of his hurt. When friends advised Waugh to put it behind him he was quoted as saying, “I can’t, I can’t”. Ironically, in The Scarlet Woman, when the Dean of Balliol (Evelyn) felt let down by the Prince who had fled to the arms of Beatrice de Carrolle, Waugh expressed himself in a similar sort of way, a caption declaring that he (the Dean) had never felt so injured.

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Martin Stannard is good on the Heygate/Waugh love triangle in his excellent 1000-page biography of Waugh. So is Selina Hastings in her invaluable tome. I have emails from Richard Heygate, which I quote from in EVELYN! Rhapsody for an Obsessive Love, giving something of his father’s point of view. So do take a look at that when the chance comes. Oh, yes, and I have photographs of the actual participants, courtesy of Alexander Waugh and Richard Heygate. Not just these actors, splendidly cast as they undoubtedly are.