Brideshead Regained

Cover of Brideshead Regained by Michael JohnstonMy unauthorised sequel to the Evelyn Waugh masterpiece Brideshead Revisited was conceived as a personal hommage to the Master. The idea for my book came to me after a business visit to Castle Howard, the location for the TV adaptation, when the Hon. Simon Howard told me that around half the visitors to his family home believed they were actually visiting Brideshead. Wondering, as one does, what happened after Charles Ryder drove off in that jeep at the end of the film, I found the storyline of the ‘sequel’ came into my mind very clearly.

In my mind’s eye, the main characters in the original were brought together immediately after the war at Nanny Hawkins funeral, this event (once again, if you accept my novel is the sequel) prompting Ryder to recount in flashback the events of the intervening years.

Such legal opinion as I received had suggested to me that while the words and the plot of the original are clearly copyrighted, the characters cannot be protected, nor indeed can the title. A respected literary agent thought the book had sufficient merit in its writing that he tried to place it with mainstream publishers. However, prudent publishers decided to give it a miss and, with the Waugh centenary on the horizon, I published Brideshead Regained myself. This did not go down well with the Waugh family and the representatives of the Waugh literary estate.

There were long and serious discussions but (as was their right) The Estate felt it was a breach of their copyright and, while they did not insist the edition be pulped, they asked that I confine sales to the internet and not reprint. Their ‘request’ was backed up by the threat of legal action that would probably take up time and certainly cost rather a lot of money. So I compromised: and did it their way!

The net effect is that there are now a limited number of copies around the UK, Europe and the USA that are trickling onto the second-hand market. They were initially priced as high as £250 but more realistic prices now prevail. If you want to know more about Charles Ryder’s career as an Official War Artist, Anthony Blanche’s wartime experiences and the death of Sebastian, I recommend you look the book up on www.abebooks.co.uk and see if they have a copy at a price to suit you. If you have a moment after reading it, do please let me know what you think of Brideshead Regained.