Acton's dismissal of The Temple at Thatch had made Waugh nervous of his potential as an imaginative writer—he deferred to Acton's judgement on all literary issues—and he did not for the time being attempt to write another novel. After "The Balance" he wrote a humorous article, "Noah, or the Future of Intoxication", which was first accepted and then rejected by the publishers Kegan Paul. However, a short story called "A House of Gentle Folks", was published in The New Decameron: The Fifth Day, edited by Hugh Chesterman (Oxford: Basil. Blackwell, 1927). Thereafter, for a time, Waugh devoted himself to non-fictional work. An essay on the Pre-Raphaelites was published in a limited edition by Waugh's friend Alastair Graham; this led to the production of a full-length book, Rossetti, His Life and Works, published in 1928.
The desire to write fiction persisted, however, and in the autumn of 1927 Waugh began a comic novel which he entitled Picaresque: or the Making of an Englishman. The first pages were read to another friend, the future novelist Anthony Powell, who found them very amusing, and was surprised when Waugh told him, just before Christmas, that the manuscript had been burned. This was not in fact the case; Waugh had merely put the work aside. Early in 1928 he wrote to Harold Acton, asking whether or not he should finish it. On this occasion Acton was full of praise; work was resumed and the novel completed by April. It was published later that year under a new title, Decline and Fall. According to his recent biographer Paula Byrne, Waugh had "found his vocation as a writer, and over the next few years his career would rise spectacularly." The Temple of Thatch was quickly forgotten, and as Whitechapel points out, has failed to arouse much subsequent interest from scholars. Whitechapel, however, considers it a loss to literature, and adds: "Whether or not it matched the quality of his second novel, Decline and Fall, if it were still extant it could not fail to be of interest to both scholars and general readers."
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