Alexander Raban Waugh, was a British novelist, the elder brother of the better-known Evelyn Waugh and son of Arthur Waugh, author, literary critic, and publisher. His first wife was Barbara Jacobs, his second wife was Joan Chirnside and his third wife was Virginia Sorenson, author of the Newbery Medal–winning Miracles on Maple Hill.
Waugh was born in London, and educated at Sherborne School, a public school in Dorset. The result of his experiences was his first, semi-autobiographical novel, The Loom of Youth, in which he remembered and reflected on his schooldays. The book was clearly inspired by The Harrovians by Arnold Lunn, published in 1913 and discussed at some length in The Loom of Youth.
The Loom of Youth was so controversial at the time that he remains the only former pupil to be expelled from the old boys society. It was also a best seller.
When the book was published Waugh was serving in France, although he did not see action in the First World War until Passchendaele. He was commissioned in the Dorset Regiment in May 1917. He was captured by the Germans near Arras in March 1918 and spent the rest of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in Karlsruhe and Mainz. He went on to a career as a successful author, although never as successful or innovative as his younger brother. He lived much of his life overseas, in exotic places such as Tangier – a lifestyle made possible by his second marriage, to a rich Australian. His work, possibly in consequence, tends to be reminiscent of Somerset Maugham, although without Maugham's huge popular success. Nevertheless, his 1957 novel Island in the Sun was a best-seller, as was his 1973 novel, A Fatal Gift. According to his nephew Auberon, Alec Waugh "wrote many books, each worse than the last".