Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (October 28, 1903 - April 10, 1966) was an English writer, best known for such satirical novels as Decline and Fall , Vile Bodies , Scoop , A Handful of Dust and The Loved One , as well as for broader and more personal works, such as Brideshead Revisited and the Sword of Honour trilogy, that are influenced by his own experiences and his conservative and Catholic viewpoints. Many of Waugh's novels depict British aristocracy and high society, which he satirizes but to which, paradoxically, he was also strongly attracted. In addition, he wrote short stories, three biographies, and the first volume of an unfinished autobiography. His travel writings and his extensive diaries and correspondence have also been published.
In 1944, American literary critic Edmund Wilson pronounced Waugh "the only first-rate comic genius that has appeared in English since Bernard Shaw," while Time magazine declared, in a 1966 obituary, that he had "developed a wickedly hilarious yet fundamentally religious assault on a century that, in his opinion, had ripped up the nourishing taproot of tradition and let wither all the dear things of the world." Waugh's works were very successful with the reading public and he was widely admired by critics as a humorist and prose stylist. In his notes for an unpublished review of Brideshead Revisited, George Orwell declared that Waugh was "about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions." The American conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. found in Waugh "the greatest English novelist of the century," while his liberal counterpart Gore Vidal called him "our time's first satirist." Even the "overt racism" of his African writings has been forgiven by Ethiopian luminaries because his humour, satire, cruelty and wit were spread even-handedly, attacking the foibles of his own country at least as vigorously as those of foreigners.