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A Beautiful Mind: much ado about...what?

What better to read on Fathers Day than Alexander Waugh's Fathers and Sons

When I first discovered Evelyn Waugh a few years ago, I could not get enough of his work.  Doing a followup search, I discovered his grandson, Alexander Waugh, had written Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family.

I really enjoyed this book, which goes through the Waugh family history and traces the development of its authors, who span multiple generations.  Naturally, the book also contains a discussion of the women, but the women of the Waugh family never took much interest in writing.  Laura Herbert (his grandmother) liked raising cows and was indifferent to Evelyn's writing.  There were no literary partnerships in the Waugh line.

It is an interesting contrast with Ford Madox Ford (there I go again), who all but destroyed his literary legacy by abandoning his wife and daughters.  Evelyn was never particularly affectionate, but his many descendants respect his work and defend his legacy.

The Waughs also provide a unique insight into how writers are shaped both by genetics and family tradition.  Most of Evelyn's (many) descendants never took up writing, but the strain of those who did continued the tradition of biting satire and sharp wit. 


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