The first part of Brideshead Revisited is set in Oxford, the English university town where Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder meet. There are many references to Oxford landmarks, such as churches and pubs, and also to various Oxford University colleges, including Merton, Balliol and, most notably, Christ Church, where Sebastian Flyte and Anthony Blanche have rooms.
Although Charles Ryder's college is not named, it is believed to be based on Waugh's own Hertford College.
According to a letter from Sebastian to Charles, Brideshead Castle (the seat of the Flyte family) is in the county of Wiltshire, in southwest England.
There are no further references to Wiltshire in the novel, nor any evidence that Evelyn Waugh based his portrait of Brideshead Castle on any particular house in that county.
It has been suggested, in fact, that Brideshead was based on two different houses: Madresfield Court in Worcestershire (the chapel of which is almost certainly the model for the chapel at Brideshead) and Castle Howard in North Yorkshire.
Madresfield Court was the family home of the Lygon family, who were close friends of Waugh. Hugh Lygon, the younger son, was a contemporary of Waugh's at Oxford, and is said to be a model for Sebastian.
Charles and Sebastian visit Lord Marchmain in Venice, a city in northern Italy, famous for its canals. It is situated in the Venetian Lagoon and spreads over 117 small islands.
There are passing references to various places in the capital including Bayswater, where Charles Ryder has his home, and the East End, the scene of the scuffle between the special constables and the strikers during the 1926 General Strike. However, most of the London scenes occur in the more upper-crust areas: Mayfair, Belgravia, St. James's and Green Park, where Marchmain House and the Ritz Hotel are situated.
Fez is the third-largest city in Morocco. It consists of three distinct areas: the old walled city; the Mellah (the old Jewish quarter); and the Ville Nouvelle (the modern, French-created quarter).
One of the best known transatlantic liners was the Queen Mary, which belonged to the Cunard-White Star line. She made her maiden voyage in 1936, so may have been the ship that Evelyn Waugh had in mind for Charles and Celia's Atlantic crossing.
As is noted in the novel, memories of the First World War were still very fresh in the 1920s, although this did not prevent young people from leading lively and boisterous social lives. Indeed, the 1920s is sometimes known as the Roaring Twenties because of the exuberant, convention-defying lifestyles of many young people at that time.
See The Great Gatsby on Book Drum for a US perspective on the period.
However, as is suggested in Waugh's portrayal of the 1926 General Strike, the 1920s was a time of severe economic hardship for many people in Britain.
In the 1930s there was severe financial hardship in Britain and abroad during what came to be known as the Great Depression, although its effects on the affluent characters in Brideshead Revisited are not obvious.
However, there is much attention devoted in the novel to the enormous political tensions which existed in Europe during the decade, with several references to the Spanish Civil War, Italian Fascism and developments in Nazi Germany.
Affairs closer to home are also discussed, especially the abdication crisis of 1936 when King Edward VIII relinquished the throne to marry the twice-divorced American socialite, Wallis Simpson.