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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Letters from a debauchee

The exuberant truffle hound returns! A previous book: Evan, Lord Tredegar, Selected Letters, Prose and Quotations: The Mystic Muse of Evan Frederick Morgan now has its natural sequel: Evan, Lord Tredegar: Further Letters and Prose Pieces with Anecdotes about Evan.

This book is a relatively slim volume but one which illustrates the level of detective work involved in sniffing out long forgotten letters to and from Evan Morgan. Like all the letters William Cross has unearthed in his various books, they provide glimpses into a highly febrile world of privilege and debauchery. And for those with google at their fingertips, the index references will take you down the rabbit-hole into long forgotten worlds. 

The Introduction begins with a quote from Oscar Wilde, ‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your heart grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.’ Evan Morgan yielded to everything and exhausted unimaginable wealth in the process. The nineteen-page introduction provides a brief account of Evan Morgan’s life, useful for those who know nothing about him. One quote sums it up, a warning from a father to his son:
‘You are old enough to know that there exists a man named Evan Morgan…and I tell you here and now that should you ever find yourself in the same room you are to leave immediately.’ Alan Pryce-Jones ‘The Bonus of Laughter’

 The letters that follow shed some light not only on Evan, but such interwar luminaries as Aldous Huxely, Ottoline Morrell and Lloyd George’s mistress, Frances Stevenson – who saw through Evan almost immediately.

There are anecdotes of Evan in Oxford’s Randolph Hotel opening the door to rooms service completely naked. It was likely he did this in most hotels, either from carelessness or in the hope of an obliging bellhop.

Whatever other letters remain, it is probable Will Cross will unearth them. He haunts Kew Gardens, sleeping between stacks in his hammock – when he’s not riffling through obscure archives of old country houses or haunting ancient dowagers. For those interested in what some of the great houses would prefer to forget you can check out his books on:


LD Masterson said...

Mike, you always come up with most interesting facts about the most interesting people I've never heard of.

Mike Keyton said...

Thank you, Linda. That's a nice thing to say 😄