On today’s installment of The Lissome And The Dead: Hugh Lygon.
Called “the lascivious Mr. Lygon” by Evelyn Waugh, Hugh is remembered as being an endearingly dim bulb who was never on time, who rarely responded to letters, and who “drifted around Oxford like a lost boy, a Peter Pan who refused to grow up.” After his father, threatened with charges of sodomy, was forced to leave Britain, Hugh began a not-so-slow descent into alcoholism, and died at age thirty-two from head injuries sustained while on a motoring tour.
Waugh was magnificently successful in destroying all correspondence between himself and Lygon, leaving the precise nature of their relationship as a topic of rather half-hearted debate. It is certain that Waugh and Lygon became close after meeting through the most flamboyant institution on campus (the Hypocrites’ Club.) A. L. Rowse, Nancy Mitford, and Waugh himself have all intimated, with varying degrees of coyness, that the two slept together. Most tellingly, of course, is the matter of Waugh’s intensely homoerotic novel, whose homoerotic focal point is unambiguously derived from Lygon. So while it is crude to boil a man’s life down to a game of “did they didn’t they,” I personally consider this debate to be exceptionally settled.
All week, I’ve been trying and failing to find more Lygonny sources, and have consequently decided that, if no letters from Hugh are recovered before I die, I’ll just have to convert and personally punch Evelyn Waugh on his ectoplasmic nose.