February 26, 2016
TIME will tell, Evelyn Waugh was a woman
by Chad Felix
Yesterday morning, TIME magazine’s David Johnson posted an article entitled “These Are the 100 Most-Read Female Writers in College Classes.” Included in this post was a man named Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh, better known as Evelyn Waugh, author of the 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited.
It’s a silly, oddly common mistake—one that Paul Magrath (@Maggotlaw) noted was apparently also made in the first revised edition of Waugh’s own novel Decline and Fall. It was also a punchline to a joke in the film Lost in Translation.
The error has since inspired the expected stir on social media, with Evelyn Waugh trending on Twitter—“presumably the first time a British novelist who has been dead for 50 years managed this,” quipped The Huffington Post UK’s Jack Sommers.
As can bee seen in the screencap below, the man Evelyn Waugh was originally slotted at number 97, with a curriculum count of 342, right between Gloria Anzaldua and Marguerite Duras.
Upon the discovery of the oversight, TIME issued a correction, noting that Evelyn Waugh is not a woman, but a man, which is true. Many laughed, others blamed it all on millennials (??), others invited Twitter users to download one of the author’s audiobooks, and a marketing bot tweeted a Waugh quote. All of which is to say, just another day surfing the world not-so-wild web.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.