Hugh Patrick Lygon was the son of William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp and is generally believed to be the inspiration for Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. His father has been cited as the inspiration for Lord Marchmain, Sebastian's father. The Lygon family home, Madresfield, has been referred to as the 'real Brideshead'.
Lygone was a friend Waugh's at Oxford (the don, A L Rowse, believed the two to be lovers), where both were members of the Hypocrites' Club.
In her 2009 biography of Waugh - Mad World: Evelyn Waugh And The Secrets of Brideshead - the biographer Paula Byrne claims she has unearthed definitive evidence that Waugh had a physical relationship with Hugh Lygon, including a letter written by Oxford history don A L Rowse, and an interview with a female friend. Although he never discussed it in detail, Waugh did openly acknowledge that he had had more than one homosexual relationship at Oxford.
Lygon's sisters - all of whom were close friends of Waugh's, always said their brother suffered from second-son syndrome. He was the favourite of his father, and had been popular at Eton. Owing to his beauty he was always given female parts in plays – even appearing as Helen of Troy in a production of Dr Faustus.
Byrne cites Lygon as the third of Evelyn Waugh's serious homosexual relationship while at Oxford. Like Charles Ryder, the semi-autobiographical Waugh in Brideshead, after this period the writer seems to have away from homosexuality, a common trend among the intellectual and/or well-heeled Oxford set at that time.
Hugh Lygon died suddenly during a motor trip to Baravaria in 1936.
Portrait of the Rt Hon Hugh Lygon by William Ranken (1881-1941)
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