|Born||8 July 1898|
|Died||3 September 1981 (aged 83)|
|Resting place||St John-at-Hampstead|
Alexander Raban Waugh (8 July 1898 - 3 September 1981) was a British novelist, the elder brother of the better-known Evelyn Waugh and son of Arthur Waugh, author, literary critic, and publisher. His first wife was Barbara Jacobs (daughter of the writer William Wymark Jacobs), his second wife was Joan Chirnside and his third wife was Virginia Sorenson, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Miracles on Maple Hill.
Waugh was born in London, and educated at Sherborne School, a public school in Dorset. The result of his experiences was his first, semi-autobiographical novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), in which he dramatized his schooldays. The book was inspired by Arnold Lunn's The Harrovians, published in 1913 and discussed at some length in The Loom of Youth.
The Loom of Youth was so controversial at the time (it mentioned homosexual relationships between boys, albeit in a very understated, staid fashion) that Waugh remains the only former pupil to be dismissed from the former students society (The Old Shirburnian Society). It was also a best seller. (The Society's website gives a different version: Alec and his father resigned and were not reinstated until 1933, while Evelyn went to a different school. In the mid-1960s Alec donated the original manuscript, press clippings and correspondence with the publisher to the Society.)
Waugh served in the British army in France during the First World War, being commissioned in the Dorset Regiment in May 1917, and seeing action at Passchendaele. Captured by the Germans near Arras in March 1918, Waugh spent the rest of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in Karlsruhe and in the Mainz Citadel. Wugh married his first wife, Barbara Jacobs, in 1919.
He later had a career as a successful author, although never as successful or innovative as that of his younger brother. He lived much of his life overseas, in exotic places such as Tangier – a lifestyle made possible by his second marriage in 1932 to a rich Australian, Joan Chirnside. His work, possibly in consequence, tended to be reminiscent of W. Somerset Maugham, although without achieving Maugham's huge popular success. Nevertheless, his 1955 novel Island in the Sun was a best-seller. It was filmed in 1957 as Island in the Sun, securing from Hollywood the greatest amount ever paid for the use of a novel at that time. His 1973 novel A Fatal Gift was also a success, though his nephew Auberon Waugh claimed that Alec Waugh "wrote many books, each worse than the last".
He was a wine connoisseur, and published In Praise of Wine & Certain Noble Spirits (1959), a light-hearted and discursive guide to the major wine types, and Wines and Spirits, a 1968 book in the Time-Life series Foods of the World.
Waugh also merits a mention in the history of reggae music. The success of the movie adaptation of Island in the Sun and the Harry Belafonte title track provided inspiration as well as the name for the successful Island Records record label.
In 1969, Waugh married the author Virginia Sorensen, and they resided together in Morocco, then moved to the states as his health failed. He died in Florida at the age of 83.