WAUGH, Evelyn. Decline and Fall. An Illustrated Novelette. London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd., 1928.
8o. Frontispiece and plates by Waugh. Original red and black "marbled" cloth; pictorial dust jacket (lightly soiled, spine slightly faded). Provenance: VYVYAN HOLLAND (1886-1967), son of Oscar Wilde (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION, A FINE COPY IN JACKET. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY WAUGH TO VYVYAN HOLLAND on the front free endpaper: "For Vyvyan with best wishes from Evelyn." Alec Waugh devoted a chapter to Holland in his autobiography: "...I met him in January 1923 on the evening of my election to the Savile Club. It was a friendship of pleasant but slow growth... We like the same kinds of person, we played the same kind of gold--though he would not confirm this--we have each a collector's taste for first editions, we enjoy the pleasures of the table. I have had many of my best times with him" (Alec Waugh, "Son of Oscar Wilde," in My Brother Evelyn and Other Profiles, London, 1967, pp.248-254). Both Evelyn Waugh and Vyvyan Holland were forced to deal with the public exposure and excoriation of homosexuality in their families: Waugh with his brother Alec who was forced to withdraw from school due to a homosexual encounter, and Holland of course due to his father's most famous of public cases. Around the time of this inscription, Waugh and his wife were attempting to repair their marraige, and attended a tropical-themed party at Holland's (Selina Hastings, Evelyn Waugh, Boston, 1994, p.194).
The publication of Decline and Fall is one of mythic twists of fate. Duckworth, which had published Waugh's biography of Rossetti, rejected the book on grounds of "indelicacy." Waugh proceeded to offer the manuscript to Chapman & Hall, in the absence of his father who was the managing director of the firm but was away on holiday. The acting-director agreed to publish the novel, without enforcing any of the emendations demanded by Duckworth. Arthur Waugh returned to London to discover that his son was his firm's newest author. When Arthur Waugh's biography was published three years later, however, Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies, the two novels published under his directorship of Chapman & Hall, were not mentioned. The indelicate material, which Martin Stannard has since revealed in fact did go through some "taming" revisions, was perhaps a bit too much for the elder Waugh. Connolly, The Modern Movement 58; Davis et al, IV.