The Lygons, the Flytes and Evelyn Waugh

Gallagher, Donat (2010) The Lygons, the Flytes and Evelyn Waugh. Quadrant, 54 (3). pp. 96-99.

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[Extract] Paula Byrne's Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead scores several significant breakthroughs, and I warmly commend it to general readers as well as Waugh enthusiasts. It follows hard on the heels of Jane Mulvagh's equally interesting Madresfield: One Home, One Family, One Thousand Years. The books are complementary. Byrne's Mad World is a biography of Waugh that works outward from his close friendship with the Lygons of Madresfield. Mulvagh's Madresfield begins and ends with (unremarkable) chapters about Waugh; but it is essentially a fascinating history of Madresfield—a country house with a Tudor core and enveloping Neo-Gothic additions—and of the Lygon (earlier and in the USA, Ligon) family. The Lygons, who date from the Norman Conquest, have lived uninterruptedly at Madresfield since the sixteenth century. Because the family has been involved in most of the significant developments of the last four hundred years, their story illuminates every period of English history since Henry VIII. Family divisions over the Reformation; involvement in plots against Mary Tudor; the role of the house and family during the Civil War; a book written by a Lygon about Barbados that explains the wealth pouring into England from the sugar trade and slavery; a younger son's apprenticeship to the London Grocers Company (which provided money that saved the family); a disputed inheritance from a very distant connection, Jennens, which brought the Lygons sufficient wealth to buy (for £10,000) the Beauchamp earldom (the interminable legal wrangles over this inheritance inspired Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Dickens’s Bleak House); patronage of the Arts and Crafts Movement, with its social implications, heavy financial backing for the Tractarians and deep involvement with Edward Elgar; late Victorian and Edwardian Liberal politics. A more knowledgeable reader might be unimpressed by all this historical information. I was already acquainted with most of the topics raised, but Mulvagh's revelations proved as riveting as they were enlightening.

Item ID: 14859
Item Type: Article (Book Review)
ISSN: 0033-5002
Keywords: Waugh; Byrne; Mulvagh; Madresfield; Lygon; Beauchamp
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This review also appeared in Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1, Spring 2010 as "The Lygons of Madresfield and Evelyn Waugh". A copy of this version is also loaded to this record.

Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2010 01:23
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 100%
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