Evelyn Waugh was an English writer regarded by many as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his day. After short periods as an art student and schoolmaster, Waugh devoted himself to solitary observant travel and to the writing of novels, soon earning a wide reputation for sardonic wit and technical brilliance.

Waugh’s novels, although their material is nearly always derived from first hand experience, are unusually highly wrought and precisely written. The most noteworthy are Decline and Fall (1928), Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934), and Scoop (1938). A later work in that vein is The Loved One (1948), a satire on the morticians’ industry in California.

During World War II, Waugh’s writing took a more serious and ambitious turn. In Brideshead Revisited (1945) he studied the workings of providence and the recovery of faith among the members of a Roman Catholic landed family. Helena, published in 1950, is a novel about the mother of Constantine the Great, in which Waugh recreated one moment in Christian history to assert a particular theological point. In a trilogy — Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955), and Unconditional Surrender (1961)—he analysed the character of World War II, in particular its relationship with the eternal struggle between good and evil and the temporal struggle between civilization and barbarism.

Waugh also wrote biographies; Rossetti: His Life and Works (1928), Edmund Campion: A Life (1935), and Ronald Knox (1959); and the first part of an autobiography, A Little Learning (1964). The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, edited by Michael Davie and first published in 1976, was reissued in 1995. A selection of Waugh’s letters, edited by Mark Amory, was published in 1980.