The Loved One

Evelyn Waugh

Introduced by Christopher Sykes
Illustrated by Beryl Cook

Evelyn Waugh’s mordant satire on the funeral industry is illustrated with paintings by the great Beryl Cook OBE.

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The Loved One

‘One of the funniest and most significant books of the century’

In 1947, Evelyn Waugh visited Hollywood to discuss a proposed film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. The adaptation never came to be – Waugh considered the work’s eschatological undertones to be lost on the Americans – but instead he found something unexpected, a ‘mine of literary gold’ in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. The Loved One follows the fortunes of Dennis Barlow, a young Englishman in Hollywood. Tasked with organising a friend’s funeral, Barlow visits Whispering Glades Memorial Park, where he falls hopelessly in love with Aimée Thanatogenos, a beautiful but brainless make-up artist to the dead. Surrounded by a signature cast of rogues, drunks and irredeemable snobs – both living and dead – Barlow must compete for Aimée’s rather fickle affections. And under Waugh’s withering gaze, the ever-widening gap in Anglo-American cultural relations has never appeared so irreparable. Grim, grotesque and hilarious, the novel shows us a world in which death is a package holiday and each ‘Loved One’ – or corpse – wears the same beatific smile.

This reissue features eight original paintings by Beryl Cook, including a double-page spread. Her interpretation of the novel is inspired – whether depicting the ‘gorgeous little casket’ of a deceased pet parrot or Mrs Joyboy’s ‘positively insulting clothes’. The introduction, drawn from Christopher Sykes’s biography of Waugh, discusses the inspiration behind The Loved One, and how it marked a return to darker satire for the author. The endpapers are printed with the name ‘Aimée’ in italic script on textured pale pink paper.

The Loved One
‘Thoroughly horrible and fiendishly entertaining’

Production Details

The Loved One book
  • Bound in cloth
  • Set in Bembo
  • 128 pages; 8 colour illustrations
  • 11" × 7¼"

About Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh, the son of a publisher, was born in London in 1903. Educated at Lancing College and Hertford College, Oxford, Waugh worked briefly as a schoolmaster before turning to writing full time. His first book, a biography of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was published in 1927, followed in 1928 by his first novel, Decline and Fall. His second novel, Vile Bodies (1930), was written shortly after the breakdown of his brief first marriage; he later remarried and had six children. His journalistic career took him from Abyssinia (at the time of the Italian invasion in 1935) to British East Africa and South America; his extensive travels formed the basis of further novels and travelogues, including A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). He served in the Royal Marines and Royal Horse Guards during the Second World War. Written during six months’ leave from battle, Brideshead Revisited was published in 1945 to enormous acclaim. He died in 1966.


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