Brideshead Revisited

Evelyn Waugh

Illustrated by Harry Brockway

Introduced by A. N. Wilson

Aristocratic privilege stands on a precipice in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, a nostalgic study of class and character, newly illustrated with Harry Brockway’s stylised wood engravings for this Folio Society edition.

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Charles Ryder’s cousin warned him against taking rooms on the ground floor of his Oxford college, so when the young Lord Sebastian Flyte is sick through his window, it seems he should have heeded the advice. However, no one is immune to Sebastian’ inimitable charm and soon a relationship develops that will change Charles’ life for ever. Chosen as one of Time magazine’ 100 greatest novels of all time, this is Waugh’s most popular book, combining aching sympathy for the passing of privilege with the best of his razor-sharp wit. 

Production Details

Quarter-bound in blocked cloth with printed Modigliani paper sides

Set in Dante

344 pages

Six wood engravings 

Printed two-colour throughout

Plain slipcase

˝ x 6¼˝

Observations of a disappearing world

Ryder is socially and financially out of his depth among his Oxford cohorts yet he’s enamoured with the aristocratic entitlement and easy living that they enjoy. However, these are unsettled times and Waugh’s characters must move with the changing social landscape. Sebastian is beguiling but needy; his family’s eccentricities appear increasingly dysfunctional as the post-war years roll on and Ryder’s life becomes more intertwined with theirs through professional success and personal liaisons.   

The novel pinpoints a very precise moment in British social history and Waugh perfectly recreates the ambiance of the period; the aristocracy cling to their privilege and Ryder becomes increasingly vocal about his anti-religious sentiment. Despite the distractions of the beautifully crafted prose, the reader remains painfully aware of the imminent war, while Ryder and his contemporaries enjoy the bounties of privilege, blissfully ignorant of impending events. 

A new edition of a classic novel

To illustrate one of the greatest literary masterpieces of the 20th century, we worked with wood engraver Harry Brockway. His work will be well known to Folio readers, with recent commissions including the Maigret collection. Here, he has created stylised scenes that take us straight back to Brideshead and its characters’ devil-may-care lives. Brockway also designed the striking binding art – an evocative portrait for the front and subtle motifs of swirling cigarette smoke on the back. Award-winning novelist A. N. Wilson writes of Waugh’s skill for crafting memorable characters in the newly commissioned introduction to this edition. 

About Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh was born in London in 1903, the son of a publisher. 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 April 1928, followed the same year by his first novel, Decline and Fall. His second novel, Vile Bodies (1930), was published 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. Waugh died in 1966.

About A. N. Wilson

A. N. Wilson was born in North Staffordshire. He taught literature for seven years at New College, Oxford, where he won the Chancellor’s English Essay Prize and the Ellerton Prize. He is the author of over 20 novels and as many works of non-fiction. His biography of Tolstoy won the Whitbread Prize in 1988 and his biography of Queen Victoria was published in 2014 to critical acclaim. He is also the author of The Victorians (2002; Folio edition 2008) and of God’s Funeral (1999), an account of how the Victorians lost their faith. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

About Harry Brockway

Harry Brockway was born in Newport, South Wales, in 1958. He studied sculpture at Kingston-upon-Thames Art School and at the Royal Academy Schools in London before training to become a stonemason. Since 1989 he has worked as a stone-carver and illustrator. He uses a range of sculpting materials to create his art, including limestone, sandstone, slate, marble and wood. He has been a member of the Society of Wood Engravers since 1984, and has produced a significant body of work for Folio Society publications, including Frankenstein (2004; 2015), The Vision of Piers the Plowman (2014) and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (2010; 2017).


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