"I knew Sebastian by sight long before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behavior which seemed to know no bounds. My first sight of him was as we passed the door of Germer's, and, on that occasion, I was struck less by his looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large Teddy-bear." (Brideshead Revisited
Charles, the narrator in Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited
introduces his readers to Aloysius (his friend Sebastian's bear) almost as soon as we meet Sebastian. As I also took my bear to college, I found this particular eccentricity of Sebastian's quite endearing. Following on my theme of picnics, I've had a recent desire to have a 'Teddy Bear Picnic' in honor of the song, which was first published in 1907 (although the lyrics weren't added until the 1930s) and because I just really love stuffed toys.
So I went on a search for pictures of bears from the early 20th century...and found this postcard:
While, given that this was a postcard, it is probably staged, I still love it. Doesn't it remind you of Brideshead
? Which got me thinking some more about Waugh's novel. Did you know that Waugh based Aloysius on a bear named Archibald Ormsby-Gore? He belonged to John Betjeman, who brought Archibald to Oxford with him (along with his stuffed elephant Jumbo). Betjeman and Waugh were friends while at university together.
|Betjeman with his much-loved Archibald Ormsby-Gore and Jumbo the elephant|
As a student who also has a bear with me at school, I think this is absolutely fantastic. It also turns out that another special bear appeared as Aloysius in the mini-series.
Here is the 1981 cast with their bear:
|Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, and Delicatessen as Charles, Sebastian, and Aloysius|
Aloysius was played by a bear named Delicatessen, who belonged to one of the designers. He was made in 1907, about the time a childhood bear of Sebastian's would have been manufactured as the book is set in the '20s!
|Delicatessen, produced c.1907|
The next bear I adopt might have to be named Archibald, in honor of Betjeman's. Click through to see more fabulous bears!