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Leicester book lovers asked to join major Evelyn Waugh project

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Leicester book lovers asked to join major Evelyn Waugh project

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Communities

Leicester book lovers have a chance to take part in a huge scholarly project which aims to publish the complete writings of the British author Evelyn Waugh. 

Keen readers across the city are invited to join a newly-launched book club, set up by the University of Leicester’s School of English whose Professor Martin Stannard is Co-Executive Editor of The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh

Members will be able to read Waugh’s works – including widely-loved novels such as Vile Bodies and Brideshead Revisited – and discuss them at monthly meetings with fellow readers across the city. 

Book club members’ thoughts will feed into an online log of public reactions to Waugh’s work on a website accompanying the Complete Works project – which has been funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). 

The 42-volume edition will be published by Oxford University Press between 2016 and 2022. 

This will include all of Waugh’s novels, short stories, biographies, travel writing and art work. Crucially, the team will also publish all of his letters – the vast majority of which have never been seen by the public. 

Alexander Waugh, Evelyn Waugh’s grandson and Senior Visiting Fellow of the University, is the General Editor of the edition, with Professor Martin Stannard and Professor David Bradshaw of Oxford acting as Co-Executive Editors. 

The team are appealing to the public to come forward with any lost Waugh material – such as letters or other correspondence which may have been in private ownership for generations. 

But the researchers also want to raise the profile of Waugh and his writing – and the book club will be an important way of celebrating and exploring the huge contribution Waugh has made to twentieth-century literature. 

A website for the project, due to be launched in March, will include a section devoted to readers’ contributions and opinions. 

Regular book club sessions will be held at Leicester Central Library, where readers will be able to discuss the work with researchers and volume editors. 

Dr Barbara Cooke, Research Associate on the project, said: “Evelyn Waugh is the perfect writer for a book group. He’s popular, he’s funny and people love reading him, so it makes sense to have strong public engagement with the project. People among the general readership will have rich and varied opinions on Waugh's writing that will bring the works alive. 

“I want people in the book club to decide what we will read each month, giving everyone a chance to discuss their favourite Waugh book or discover something off the beaten track. 

“Once it is established, we are hoping to put on talks from some of the volume editors of the Complete Works and hold film screenings of adaptations alongside book club meetings.” 

Councillor Sarah Russell, Assistant City Mayor for neighbourhood services, said: "We've got lots of fantastic book groups all over the city and this is a wonderful opportunity for people to engage with something new.”

The first Book Club will be in Leicester Central Library on Saturday 25 January at 11am, when Waugh fans are invited to discuss the classic novel Brideshead Revisited over tea and cake. 

Anyone interested in signing up is asked to contact: waughbookgroupleicester@gmail.com 

Updates on the Waugh project can be found on Twitter at: @CWEvelynWaugh 

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