News & Politics

Time Magazine: Evelyn Waugh, Leading Woman Writer

Evelyn Waugh, on board the liner S.S. America. (AP Photo)

This never would have happened back in my day. David Harsanyi caught the flub:

TIME magazine asks: “What do 1 million reading lists reveal about higher education today?” Well, what it reveals is that someone at TIME shouldn’t be writing about reading lists.

There are many unsurprising names compiled by the Open Syllabus Project. And according to TIME’s “analysis,” Toni Morrison, Jane Austen, and Virginia Woolf, all rank in the top 10. But for some reason, and this had me laughing out loud, George Eliot was accidentally included on the women’s list.

That’s a joke, in case you don’t get it…

In any event, college-aged women are devouring some eclectic authors, everything from the individualist tracts of Ayn Rand to the dystopian fiction of Margaret Atwood and Naomi Klein. But I was most excited to see Evelyn Waugh, author of Brideshead Revisited and Scoop, one of my favorite novels ever, sneaking in at #97. She is awesome.

Most of the names on the list are of persons of the female persuasion that you’ve never heard of. Here’s why:


The Open Syllabus Project collected 1.1 million syllabi (of an estimated 80 to 100 million in existence) in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Canada that date from the past 15 years to compile a list of the 10,000 most-assigned books, short stories, journal articles and screenplays (the majority of the course assignments are from the past decade). TIME aggregated the top 10,000 titles by author, then used the Notable Names Database to confirm the author’s gender and generate a list of 100 most-read female authors.


Time has issued a correction:

Correction: The original version of this story included Evelyn Waugh, who was a man.

The very masculine author of Black Mischief, Vile Bodies, Scoop and The Loved One could not be reached for comment.