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The Hon. Evelyn Florence Margaret Winifred Gardner (27 September 1903 - 11 March 1994) was the youngest child of Herbert Gardner, 1st Baron Burghclere, and the first wife of Evelyn Waugh. She was one of the Bright Young Things.[1]

Evelyn Gardner
Evelyn Gardner.jpg
Hon. Evelyn Florence Margaret Winifred Gardner

(1903-09-27)27 September 1903
London, England
Died11 March 1994(1994-03-11) (aged 90)
Ticehurst, Sussex, England
Known forOne of the Bright Young Things
Evelyn Waugh
(m. 1928; div. 1929)

John Heygate
(m. 1930; div. 1936)

Ronald Nightingale
(m. 1937)
Children2, including Benedict Nightingale
Parent(s)Herbert Gardner, 1st Baron Burghclere
Lady Winifred Herbert
RelativesAlan Gardner, 3rd Baron Gardner (grandfather)
Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon (grandfather)


Early lifeEdit

Evelyn Florence Margaret Winifred Gardner was born on 27 September 1903 in London. She was the youngest of four daughters born to Herbert Gardner, 1st Baron Burghclere, and Lady Winifred Anne Henrietta Christiana (née Herbert) Byng.[2] Her mother was the widow of Captain the Hon. Alfred John George Byng (a son of George Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford) who died in 1887.[3] Among her sisters was Alathea, who married Sir Geoffrey Fry, 1st Baronet, and Mary, who married Geoffrey Hope-Morley, 2nd Baron Hollenden.[4]

Her paternal grandparents were Alan Gardner, 3rd Baron Gardner, and his second wife, the professional actress Juliah Sarah (née Fortescue). Her father was born two years before his parents' marriage and was consequently not allowed to succeed in the barony of Gardner on his father's death in 1883 but was himself raised to the peerage as Baron Burghclere, of Walden in the County of Essex, in 1895.[5] Her maternal grandparents were Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn Stanhope, a daughter of George Stanhope, 6th Earl of Chesterfield.[4]

Bright Young ThingsEdit

In the 1920s she was one of the Bright Young Things, a nickname given by the tabloid press to a group of bohemian young aristocrats and socialites in 1920s London,[6] and lived alone with Pansy Pakenham (one of the four daughters of Thomas Pakenham, 5th Earl of Longford). It was such an unusual fact, that they were interviewed by Alec Waugh in the spring of 1927 for an article on modern girls. The two girls invited Alec to a party given in Portland Place by the Ranee of Sarawak, and he brought along his brother Evelyn Waugh.[7] Before Waugh, Gardner was engaged at least nine times, among whom: a soldier, a ship's purser, a middle-aged divorcé.[1] Harold Acton said she was "a fauness, with a little snub nose", Nancy Mitford (daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale), her closest friend, said she was "a ravishing boy, a page".[7]

Personal lifeEdit

On 27 June 1928, at St Paul's in Portman Square, Evelyn Gardner married Evelyn Waugh, against the wishes of her father, who felt that Waugh lacked moral fibre and kept unsuitable company.[8] Harold Acton was the best man, Robert Byron, the writer and art critic, gave away the bride, and Alec Waugh and Pansy Pakenham were the witnesses.[7] Among their friends, they quickly became known as "He-Evelyn" and "She-Evelyn".[9] After only one year of marriage, she left Waugh for their mutual friend, John Heygate.

Second marriageEdit

After the divorce from Waugh, of all their friends, only Anthony Powell remained in contact with Evelyn Gardner, despite the fact that most of them had been Gardner's friends before Waugh. It has been suggested that the adultress Brenda Last in A Handful of Dust (1934) is based upon Gardner.[7] On 7 August 1930, Gardner married Heygate, a Northern Irish journalist and novelist. However, in 1936, this marriage also ended in divorce. Four years after their divorce, he succeeded to the title of 4th Baronet Heygate.[10]

Third marriageEdit

In May 1937, she married Ronald Nightingale (d. 1977), a civil servant, later an estate agent.[11] Together, they lived at Turnbridge Wells in Kent, had one son and one daughter,[7] before separating:[12]

She died on 11 March 1994 in Ticehurst, East Sussex and was buried at St Mary Churchyard in Ticehurst.[7]


  1. ^ a b Wilson, John Howard (1996). Evelyn Waugh: 1924-1966. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 30. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Carpenter, Humphrey. The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and His Friends. Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition. p. 493. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  3. ^ Gordon, Peter (2009). The Political Diaries of the Fourth Earl of Carnarvon, 1857-1890: Volume 35: Colonial Secretary and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780521194051. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b Heddle de La Caillemotte de Massue de Ruvigny (9th marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval), Melville Amadeus Henry Douglas (1914). The Titled Nobility of Europe: An International Peerage, Or "Who's Who", of the Sovereigns, Princes and Nobles of Europe. Harrison & Sons. p. 410. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  5. ^ "No. 26649". The London Gazette. 2 August 1895. p. 4364.
  6. ^ Philip Hoare, ‘Tennant, Stephen James Napier (1906–1987)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  7. ^ a b c d e f Davie, Michael (1994). "Obituary: Evelyn Nightingale". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  8. ^ Hastings, Selina (1994). Evelyn Waugh: A biography. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. ISBN 1-85619-223-7.
  9. ^ Stannard, Martin (2007). "Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh (1903–06)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition. Retrieved 30 October 2010. (subscription required)
  10. ^ Nightingale, Benedict (2 July 2016). "He-Evelyn and She-Evelyn: how my mother became the first Mrs Waugh". The Times. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  11. ^ Hastings, Salina (5 Nov 1994). "The first Mrs Evelyn Waugh". The Spectator. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  12. ^ Heath, Jeffrey (1983). Picturesque Prison: Evelyn Waugh and His Writing. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 284. ISBN 9780773560888. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Anne B. Redmon Will Be Married In Britain Aug. 8; Fiancee of William B.H. Nightingale, Reporter With The Guardian". The New York Times. 12 July 1964. Retrieved 22 May 2019.

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