Occasionally, we have the opportunity to catalogue not just books and other publications already known to history, but bits of primary source material that accrete another fragment of information or perspective to the historical record.
We have just catalogued an archive of Conservative Member of Parliament Sir Robert Cary spanning the late 1930s and the Second World War. The archive is notable for including a late 1937 typed, signed letter from Winston S. Churchill to Cary about the defense of Singapore, as well as 1938 correspondence about the infirmities of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Sir Robert Archibald Cary, 1st Baronet of Withington (1898-1979) was a Conservative politician. He received his education first at Ardingly College, then at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, as Churchill had done several decades earlier. Cary represented the constituency of Eccles from 1935 to 1945, then the district of Withington in Manchester from 1951 until his retirement in 1974. A veteran of the First World War (fighting with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards), during the Second World War Cary was parliamentary private secretary to the Civil Lords of the Admiralty from 1939 to 1942, and to the Secretary of State for India and Burma from 1942 to 1945. Upon Churchill’s defeat in the 1945 General Election, Cary was knighted in Churchill’s resignation honours on August 14. Cary and Churchill shared a concern for global security, as evidenced not only by Churchill’s 15 November 1937 letter to Cary regarding Singapore, but also by Cary’s numerous queries to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons in 1937 on topics including expansion of the Royal Air Force and the reform and recruiting needs of the Army. From 1951 to 1955, during Churchill’s second premiership, Cary was private secretary to the Lord Privy Seal, and also Leader of the House of Commons. He was made the first Baron of Withington in 1955 in Churchill’s final year as Prime Minister.
Cary’s archive consists of three ruled paper journals measuring 12.75 x 8 inches, bound in quarter red cloth spines over green boards.
One, labeled on the front cover “Daily Journal 1938, contains nine typed, signed pieces of correspondence to Cary from that year, as well as newspaper clippings.
Most notable among this correspondence are two letters. The first is a typed, signed letter from Winston Churchill dated “15th November 1937” on his “11, Morpeth Mansions” stationery regarding Singapore: “I entirely agree that there should be a strong Police force with a good percentage of British personnel. The only enemy we have to apprehend is Japan, and it ought to be possible to play the large Chinese population off against the Japanese three thousand to keep them under pretty close observation.” The letter bears Churchill’s holograph salutation “My dear Cary” as well as Churchill’s holograph signature “Winston S. Churchill”.
A little more than four years after Churchill’s letter to Cary, Singapore was to prove a nadir of Churchill’s wartime premiership. The Japanese invasion of south-east Asia began almost simultaneously with the invasion of Pearl Harbor in early December, 1941. Singapore was viewed as virtually impregnable – the “Gibraltar of the East”. However, her British defenders proved unprepared for the speed and ferocity of the Japanese advance. General Percival’s troops were soundly defeated in Malaya on December 11/12, 1941. Retreating to Singapore, Percival spread his men out too thinly, and many troops played no role in the final battle, from February 8-15, 1942.
On February 15, the British and Dominion troops in Singapore surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese, who took 100,000 men prisoner. Many would never return home. That night, Churchill broadcast to the nation. Jock Colville recalled “The nature of his words and the unaccustomed speech and emotion with which he spoke convinced me that he was sorely pressed by critics and opponents at home.” This would prove one of the greatest defeats of the Second World War. The blow both to Churchill and British morale was profound and Churchill “seemed unable to turn the tide of depression.” (Gilbert, Vol. VII, p.59) Pressure from both the public and Parliament led to a restructuring of the Cabinet and on February 17, Churchill endured an acrimonious debate in the House of Commons. That day he had his weekly luncheon with the King, who recorded in his diary that Churchill compared the situation to “hunting the tiger with angry wasps about him”.
Also in the “Daily Journal of 1938” are five TLS from Conservative party Chairman Douglas Hewitt Hacking, 1st Baron Hacking (1884-1950). Of particular note is a two-page letter from Hacking dated “1st March 1938”.
This letter is a reply to a letter from Cary in which he apparently asked that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain make a film on foreign affairs and that Anthony Eden be brought back into the Cabinet. Of Chamberlain, Hacking tellingly writes: “…I dare not ask him to do anything more. I had a chat with him only yesterday, and found him… exceedingly tired…. If we are to keep him fit for the next General Election, we have got to see that he has as little extra work placed upon his shoulders as possible.” About Eden, Hacking wrote: “I am terribly keen on this. I realise his popularity in the country, but apart from that it would be in his own personal interests to come back into the Government, especially if he became the head of another Department of State.”
A second journal has wartime photos and postcards of both British navy ships and Winston Churchill pasted on the front cover and within, and also includes 10 pages of Cary’s holograph notes, with additional notes on House of Commons stationery, both laid in and tipped in wartime newspaper clippings, and laid in printed parliamentary papers. Some of Cary’s holograph notes appear to be drafts of Parliamentary comments, as well as notes and 1941 correspondence and a newspaper clipping on the cotton trade.
The third and final journal is labeled “South African Journal” and appears to be a journal of Cary’s September 1938 trip to South Africa, including newspaper clippings of Cary’s opinion pieces and speeches, both before and following his trip. Cary made his travel arrangements in May, the same month of the South African General Election that consolidated power under the United South African National Party of J. B. M. Hertzog and Jan Smuts.
We offer this archive for sale HERE.
Tickets are, by nature, ephemeral things. Nonetheless, they can hold special and enduring significance, viscerally anchoring us to a place and time and reminding us of something special.
One such place and time worth remembering occurred just over 70 years ago in Fulton, Missouri, when Winston Churchill gave a famous speech at Westminster College.
We were very pleased recently to offer an original ticket and letter of invitation to this speech, and more pleased still at where it ended up, strengthening the common cause about which Churchill spoke that day, and which was a central feature in his long life. This blog post tells the story.
Churchill’s delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech on Tuesday, March 5, 1946, coining the phrase that described the division between the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence and the West. This speech incisively framed the Cold War that would dominate the second half of the Twentieth Century: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent…. I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable; still more that it is imminent… If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men… the high-roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time, but for a century to come.”
Then-President Harry S. Truman traveled with Churchill by special train from Washington D.C. for the twenty four hour overnight journey to Jefferson City, Missouri specifically to introduce Churchill in Fulton. With them was Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. During the journey, the three men discussed recent Soviet provocations in northern Persia and Turkey. “During the morning of March 5, as the train continued westward along the Missouri river, Churchill completed his speech for Fulton. It was then mimeographed on the train, and a copy shown to Truman” who told Churchill that he “thought it was admirable” and “would do nothing but good, though it would make a stir.” (Gilbert, Vol. VIII, pp.196-197).
Upon arriving in Jefferson City shortly before noon on March 5, Churchill, Truman, and Leahy drove to Fulton, where they met and lunched with Dr. Franc L. McCluer, the College president, before the academic procession and delivery of the speech. Though the subject of the speech was of utmost gravity, Churchill began with characteristic wit: “The name ‘Westminster’ is somehow familiar to me. I seem to have heard of it before.” The speech was broadcast throughout the United States.
We were excited recently to offer an original ticket to Churchill’s speech, as well as an accompanying invitation letter signed by College President Franc L. McCluer. We had never before offered an original ticket and this is no surprise. In his invitation letter, McCluer specifically stated: “Every seat in the Gymnasium and in the Chapel at the College will be reserved. Seats are non-transferable. Since we have a long waiting list, if for any reason you are unable to use your ticket, please return it to us, or if your plans are changed at the last minute, wire us.”
Though it is difficult to understand how the holder of this ticket could choose to leave it unused, we can be glad that he did. We were able to provide this ticket to Lee Pollock of The Churchill Centre. And just a few weeks ago Lee presented the ticket and letter to British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch, who assumed his post in January of this year. The Churchill Centre had partnered with the British Embassy in Washington to create a program entitled “What’s Next for the U.S. – U.K. Partnership?” Following the program and discussion, Ambassador Darroch hosted a celebratory dinner for guests “including senior staff of both Embassies, representatives of the U.S. State Department and selected foreign policy organizations in Washington. After toasting both Ambassadors with Churchill’s favorite Pol Roger champagne,” Lee presented Ambassador Darroch with the framed original ticket and letter we provided to The Churchill Centre.
It was a wonderful way to commemorate both the 70th anniversary of the speech and the relationship that does, should, and must endure.
The unity of the English-speaking peoples, particularly Great Britain and the United States – was in many ways Churchill’s political and literary life’s work. Britain’s acute dependence upon the United States during and after the Second World war is well known and very much born of necessity, but Churchill’s conception of what became the ‘Special Relationship’ had roots far earlier in Churchill’s life than the Second World War.
The cultural commonality and vitality of English-speaking peoples animated Churchill from his Victorian youth in an ascendant British Empire to his twilight in the midst of the American century. In fact, Churchill’s great four-volume work, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, was actually drafted in the 1930s. Fittingly, the half a million word draft was set aside when Churchill returned to the Admiralty and to war in September 1939. The war would, of course, pivot on an unprecedented alliance among the English-speaking peoples – an alliance Churchill personally did much to cultivate, cement, and sustain.
Churchill, the child of an American mother and descended from British nobility on his father’s side, paid particular heed to the ‘Special Relationship’ between Britain and the United States. Perhaps to some extent he regarded himself as a personification of that relationship. When Churchill first addressed the U.S. Congress on 26 December 1941 he famously quipped, “I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own.”
Among the English-speaking peoples, Churchill considered Britain and the United States in particular “united by other ties besides those of State policy and public need.” During a wartime speech at Harvard, among the “ties of blood and history” Churchill cited were, “Law, language, literature – these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice, and above all the love of personal freedom, or as Kipling put it: ‘Leave to live by no man’s leave underneath the law’ – these are common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples” (6 September 1943 speech at Harvard University).
It was of course an emerging great global threat to freedom and rule of law in the form of the ambitions of the Soviet Empire that animated Churchill’s speech 70 years ago in Fulton, Missouri.
The reinforcement and constructive application of the common conceptions of the United States and Great Britain – upon which so much of 20th Century history hinged – would continue to the very end of Churchill’s life and career. Indeed, Churchill’s aspirations for this ‘special relationship’ are encapsulated in the title of his last published book of speeches in 1961, The Unwritten Alliance.
We are pleased that our own special relationship with The Churchill Centre made this gift possible, and we hope that, in some small way, it serves to bolster and perpetuate the special relationship between the two nations Churchill held most dear. If so, it will prove a very special ticket indeed.
We have just catalogued an inscribed book worthy of attention. This is a jacketed U.S. first edition of The Mahdi of Allah by Richard A. Bermann, a notable presentation copy, tying together three men – the author, the author of the book’s Introduction, and the person to whom this copy was inscribed. All three men would all be dramatically affected by the political ascendance of Hitler a year later. The author’s intriguing inked inscription on the front free endpaper verso in 7 lines reads: “Allah is Allah | and Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah | and the author of The Mahdi of Allah | still loves his friend | Consul Paul Schwarz. | Vienna, April 1932 | Richard A. Bermann”.
The recipient of this inscribed presentation copy, Paul Schwarz (1882-1951), was a German diplomat notable for being removed by Hitler as German Consul General in New York and for publicly criticizing the new Nazi regime. Hitler became Chancellor on 30 January 1933 and consolidated dictatorial powers by late March. In early April, Paul Schwarz became one of two diplomatic officials in the United States to be removed by Hitler (along with the German Ambassador). “Of the two, and in fact, of all the German foreign service, only Schwarz was moved to disaffiliate himself publicly from the Nazi regime.” (Paul Seabury, The Wilhelmstrasse: A Study of German Diplomats Under the Nazi Regime) “I am at odds with the bigoted policies of the new regime” Schwarz told American newspapermen on April 11. “I feel honored for I am the only German consul to be dismissed by Hitler as far as I know.” It is noteworthy that Schwarz was reportedly not Jewish. His expulsion has been partially attributed to his entertaining Professor and Mrs. Albert Einstein at tea in his private residence. After his resignation, with his diplomatic passport now worthless, Schwarz went to Montreal and returned to become an American citizen as an ordinary immigrant. Schwarz was offered employment as an investment counselor with Harlle & Steiglitz “despite the fact that he had never seen a stockmarket ticker.” Schwarz would later supply information about the Nazi regime to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the forerunner of the CIA) after it was created in 1942.
The author, Richard Arnold Bermann (1883-1939), shared his friend’s sympathies and, ultimately, his exile. Bermann was a Viennese writer and leading journalist in the German-speaking world who first rose to prominence using the pseudonym Arnold Höllriegel. Bermann became known for his articles in Der Tag and other journals, which included his observations on places such as Egypt, Palestine and Brazil. After the National Socialist takeover Bermann was dismissed from the Berliner Tageblatt because of his Jewish heritage, and his writings were banned by the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Chamber of Literature). He became a co-founder of the German Academy in Exile, established in 1936 as a platform for German intellectuals in America to speak out against Hitler. Berman eventually escaped Germany, arriving in London in June 1938 and then emigrating to New York. Up to his death in 1939, he remained intensively engaged in the work of the American Guild for Cultural Freedom.
The Mahdi of Allah, originally published in Bermann’s native German, is, as the author’s subtitle describes, “The Story of the Dervish Mohammed Ahmed.” Mohammed Ahmed was a messianic Islamic leader in central and northern Sudan in the final decades of the 19th century. Claiming that Allah had selected him as the true Mahdi, he found fertile political ground in the inhabitants’ resentment engendered by the corruption of and oppression by Egyptian rulers who had long dominated the region. Economic and political problems in Egypt further strengthened the Mahdi’s hand, enabling the Mahdi’s forces and followers to occupy most of the Sudan. In 1883 the Mahdists overwhelmed the Egyptian army of William Hicks, and Great Britain ordered the withdrawal of all Egyptian troops and officials from the Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defence of the capitol, Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation of Egyptian forces. Though the Mahdi died in 1885, his theocracy continued until 1898, when the British general Kitchener reoccupied the Sudan.
With Kitchener’s forces was a very young Winston Churchill, who would participate in the battle of Omdurman in September 1898, where the Mahdist forces were decisively defeated. The young war correspondent and British cavalry officer Churchill would write his second published book – The River War – about this British campaign in the Sudan. In The River War, Churchill was unusually sympathetic to the Mahdist forces and critical of imperial cynicism and cruelty – so much so that the 1902 second edition of his book excised much of his politically imprudent criticism about Kitchener.
In 1931, Churchill wrote a four-page introduction for Bermann’s book sympathetic to the Mahdi, showing the same broadminded comprehension he had three decades earlier when he fought the Mahdi’s forces and wrote The River War: “It is interesting to know that [the Mahdi’s] operations with fire and sword through the Sudan were based on a religious enthusiasm as sincere and philanthropic as that which inspired Saint Dominic or General Booth.” This work is translated from the original German and Churchill’s introduction appears only in the British and U.S. editions. Interestingly, the British first edition bears a tipped in slip after the copyright page printed in bright red ink disavowing acknowledgement of “the claim of the Dervish Mohammed Ahmed to the sublime title of ‘The Mahdi of Allah'” in order “To avoid the possibility of causing offence to Mohammedan readers”. No such disclaimer appears in this U.S. edition, published in a country with perhaps both more robustly permissive free speech and less sophisticated cultural sensitivity.
This U.S. first edition features a substantial introduction by Winston Churchill and, as such, has been catalogued by Churchill’s bibliographers (Cohen B47.2, Woods B17). The U.S. edition is scarce in the original dust jacket and this copy is the only U.S. edition of which we are aware that is both jacketed and inscribed.
Have you ever reached into a coat pocket to find an old theatre or concert ticket, only to wish you could use it again?
At 3:00 pm on Wednesday, June 15, 1904, Winston Churchill delivered a lengthy speech in the hall of the Midland Hotel to the local Free Trade League branch of his future North West Manchester constituency. The rather remarkable little item we write about today is an original admission ticket to the meeting.
Just 29 years old, Churchill was a promising but already controversial young leader who had yet to experience either the trying failures or supreme triumphs that cemented his place in history. And he had just made one of the watershed decisions that would define the early decades of his political career and set the tone for the obdurate anti-orthodoxy in the face of personal conviction that would characterize the entirety of the six decades in Parliament that still lay before him.
Only two weeks before, on May 31, 1904, Churchill had left his father’s Conservative Party and crossed the aisle to become a Liberal. Churchill was beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and be branded a traitor to his class. Free trade was a policy issue on which he had opposed Conservative Party leadership and which had helped precipitate his defection from the party.
It would be North West Manchester that would soon provide a constituency to Churchill, even if his relationship with the constituency proved brief and fraught. In his 64-year parliamentary career, Churchill represented five different constituencies. His second – North West Manchester – was also his shortest.
Churchill’s speech of June 15, 1904 was delivered to “a meeting of business men belonging either to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce or to the Free Trade League.” His speech would be published in 1906 in the now exceptionally rare volume of his speeches titled For Free Trade (pp.82-106). Of note, in the summer of 1903, Churchill’s close friend and political ally Lord Hugh Cecil (who would serve as best man at Churchill’s wedding in 1908), helped found the Free Trade Union, which was “primarily a central propaganda body” that “maintained relations with spontaneously formed local Free Trade organisations. The most important of these was the Free Trade League of Manchester…” (P.F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, p.276)
Churchill’s first constituency (from 1900-1906) as a Member of Parliament – Oldham – favored the Conservative policy of protectionism. Churchill’s advocacy of free trade and defection to the Liberal Party led the Oldham Conservative Association to pass a resolution that he “had forfeited their confidence in him.” Churchill was invited to stand for North West Manchester, a traditionally Conservative seat that he won as a Liberal in the 1906 General Election.
North West Manchester was “one of nine of that city’s constituencies, with a tiny electorate of just 10,000, of whom almost a third were Jewish. Churchill polled 5,639 votes with a majority of 1,241… By now a junior minister, he was almost entirely concerned with national and international affairs.” (Douglas Hall, Finest Hour #103, pp.49-50) In 1908, when Churchill was promoted to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade, custom required that he submit to re-election. His by-election became a test of confidence in the Liberal government. Forced to defend the Government’s policy, targeted by vengeful Conservatives, and hounded on the hustings by Suffragettes, Churchill was narrowly defeated by the Conservative candidate.
The survival of this original ticket to Churchill’s June 15, 1904 speech on the issue of the day to his future Manchester constituency seems a little remarkable. It is an evocative and precious piece of ephemera.
The ticket measures 4.5 x 3 inches and is printed in black ink on one side of bright yellow card stock. “MR. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, M.P.” is prominently printed at the center the card and the subject of his address titled “THE FISCAL QUESTION.” Condition of the ticket is nearly perfect, with virtually no soiling or wear and retaining bright, unfaded color.
Alas, we cannot offer you the chance to use it, but this ticket is nonetheless available for purchase HERE.
Winston S. Churchill may well be one of the most well-known, studied, quoted, and collected figures of twentieth century leadership and literature.
This means that even though we are privileged to handle some of the most interesting and rare Churchill material in the world, we seldom encounter items that are truly unique, previously unknown, or potentially significant to the historical record.
The item we are writing about today is all three – an apparently singular item and a rather remarkable discovery.
This is a previously unknown publication of Churchill’s 16 October 1938 address to the American people about the Munich Agreement. Prior to this discovery, no contemporary stand-alone publication of this speech was known. There is no doubt that this publication was contemporary, as it is accompanied by a slip on Churchill’s Chartwell stationery printed: “19th November 1938 | With Mr. Churchill’s compliments.” As we discuss in this post, it may have even been printed prior to delivery of the speech. This copy bears substantial textual and format differences from the speech as hand-emended and delivered by Churchill, and as subsequently published. Finally, it is not just the only known copy to survive of a textually unique edition, it is also signed by Churchill in bold black ink on the front cover.
On 30 September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from meeting with Hitler in Munich to announce that he had ceded Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to the Nazis in return for “peace in our time.”
After receiving the news, Churchill paused with a friend outside of a restaurant from which echoed the sounds of laughter. Churchill “stopped in the doorway, watching impassively.” Turning away, “he muttered ‘those poor people! They little know what they will have to face.’” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.990)
Churchill was both weary and desperately worried. “He was sixty-three years old, and the strain of his five-year campaign… had begun to take its toll.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.961) As he had told the House of Commons in March when speaking about Czechoslovakia, “For five years I have talked to the House on these matters – not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf.”
Privately, Churchill’s feelings were even more deeply disturbed. He wrote to Lord Moyne on 11 September: “Owing to the neglect of our defences and the mishandling of the German problem during the last five years, we seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall chose Shame, and then have War thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms…” Of the time, Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, wrote: “For the first time in his political career – and it was nearly forty years since he had first stood for Parliament – Churchill’s optimism deserted him. Despite his appeal in Parliament for a national revival, the events of September 1938 filled him with a deep despondency…” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1007)
On 16 October 1938, NBC broadcast an address by Churchill directly to the American people. It may seem odd that Churchill – merely a Member of Parliament and representative of neither his Party nor his Government – would address the people of the United States. The fact is that Churchill’s tireless campaigning for prudent rearmament and collective security had given him a voice and audience independent of his Government. By this time, it was almost as if Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, despite sharing the party of the sitting Prime Minister. Churchill now used his personal platform to redouble his efforts to rouse Britain and America.
Churchill’s speech was a boldly unequivocal statement of the situation. “As a result of the Munich debate, relations between Churchill and Chamberlain had worsened considerably.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1008) Whereas Churchill might have shown a modicum of restraint even a few weeks earlier, Munich was a breaking point – for him, for Chamberlain, and for the ever worsening strategic situation in Europe. Sixteen days after Munich, Nazi Germany had not only occupied the Sudetenland, but exceeded the agreed boundaries and begun carrying out its customary Gestapo pogroms.
All of which is to say Churchill did not hold back. To convey the dire nature of the situation and set the tone, he began “I avail myself with relief of the opportunity of speaking to the people of the United States. I do not know how long such liberties will be allowed… Let me, then, speak with truth and earnestness while time remains.”
Churchill frontally assaulted both the moral and strategic infirmity of the Munich agreement. “All the world wishes for peace and security. Have we gained it by the sacrifice of the Czechosolvak Republic… the model democratic State of Central Europe… has been deserted, destroyed, and devoured… Is this the end, or is there more to come?… Can peace, goodwill and confidence be built upon submission to wrong-doing backed by force?”
Sensitive to both America’s isolationist sentiment and its proud sense of democratized progress, Churchill couched the present in terms of both the wartime threats and failures of the past and the nature of the impending future. “The culminating question to which I have been leading is whether… the world of increasing hope and enjoyment for the common man, the world of honoured tradition and expanding science – should meet this menace by submission or by resistance.”
Though he spoke of history and moral imperative, he did not eschew blunt practicality. “We are left in no doubt where American conviction and sympathies lie: but will you wait until British freedom and independence have succumbed, and then take up the cause when it is three-quarters ruined, yourselves alone?… We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay!”
Churchill was well aware that his calls to action were pejoratively characterized as war-mongering. Hence the title of the speech – “The Defence of Freedom and Peace.” Hence also his rhetorical inoculation against the charge: “Is this a call to war? …I declare it to be the sole guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance of their duty by the English-speaking peoples…”
A year later, in September 1939, Churchill returned to the Admiralty. He replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940. America would not formally enter the war until December 1941, but until she did Churchill’s relationship with America and her President, and the vital material support it brought, enabled Britain to survive.
This pamphlet is in four-page folded leaflet format, the front cover as title page with text on pages 2-4, drop-head title at page 2, printer information on the lower right corner of the fourth and final page, and subject sub-headings in bold punctuating the text.
It is quite striking and unusual for a speech pamphlet publication in several respects. First, it is large, measuring 11.25 x 8.75 inches. Rather than being printed on thin, wove paper, it is printed on substantial and good quality, watermarked, laid paper. The layout features paragraph breaks for nearly every individual sentence, more analogous to the famous ‘psalm form’ in which Churchill printed his speech notes, rather than to the more conventional, condensed paragraph format of published versions. Although the printer is specified (“St. Clements Press Ltd, Portugal St., Kingsway, London, W.C.2.), no publisher is specified.
Churchill’s signature is boldly inked in black on the lower right front cover in a style we have previously catalogued spanning the 1920s to the 1940s and observed as not uncommon to his 1930s signatures, namely “WChurchill” with the final letters of his surname underscored.
Accompanying the pamphlet is a sheet of Churchill’s Chartwell stationery printed in two lines: “19th November 1938 | With Mr. Churchill’s Compliments.” 19 November 1938 was a Saturday, which would have found Churchill staying at Chartwell for the weekend. “Throughout the spring and summer of 1938 Churchill spent as much time as possible at Chartwell.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.958)
The signed pamphlet and accompanying compliments slip were acquired from the descendant of the original recipient, who held a significant and diverse collection of autograph material.
Differences between the pamphlet and Churchill’s corrected speech notes and delivered speech
Churchill often made revisions to his speeches until the final moments preceding delivery, including this specific speech. Courtesy of The Churchill Archives Centre, we have reviewed Churchill’s hand-corrected delivery notes for this speech. Comparison of this pamphlet’s text to Churchill’s original speech notes reveal a number of hand-made emendations to the speech as delivered which are not incorporated into this printed pamphlet. These differences (excepting minor and obvious spelling or transcription errors and small punctuation differences) are detailed in the table below.
|In Speech Notes||In the Defence of Freedom and Peace Pamphlet||Comment||Location References|
|Notes Page||Pamphlet Page / Column|
|the French and British peoples have yet done||the French and British peoples have done||‘yet’ added by hand in notes||1||2 / Left|
|It is no good using hard words among friends||It is no good using hard words||‘among friends’ added by hand in notes||3||2 / Left|
|will bring upon the world a blessing or a curse||Will bring a blessing or a curse upon the world||‘upon the world’ circled and moved to a new location in notes||4||2 / Right|
|And then on top of all||But then on top of all||‘But’ is crossed out by hand in notes, changed to “And’||8||3 / Left|
|(to quote the current jargon)||To quote the current jargon||Parenthesis added by hand in notes||9||3 / Right|
|A substantial five-sentence passage – essentially the “hard-sell” to the American people, beginning with the line “Far away, happily protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, you, the people of the United States…”||Same||Appears as the final paragraph in the pamphlet but was relocated closer to the mid-point of the speech when delivered. This is the greatest substantive difference between the printed pamphlet and the delivered speech.||11||4 / Right|
|For after all||Yet after all||Difference in printed text||12||3 / Right|
|they have but to be combined to be obeyed||They have but to be united to be obeyed||‘united’ is crossed out by hand in notes, changed to ‘combined’||12||3 / Right|
|We must arm. Britain must arm. America must arm.||We must arm.||Additional two sentences in noted added by hand||13||4 / Left|
|make up for it by redoubled exertions||Make up for it by redoubling exertions||Difference in printed text||13||4 / Left|
|But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay||But how much harder our toil the longer the delay||‘the longer the delay’ crossed out by hand in notes, new phrase added by hand||15||4 / Right|
|Does anyone pretend that preparation for resistance to aggression is unleashing war?||This phrase not present in the pamphlet was added by hand in the notes||16||4 / Right|
|The swift and organized gathering of forces||The swift and resolute gathering of forces||‘resolute’ crossed out by hand in notes, ‘organized’ written above||16||4 / Right|
|the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men||the fear which already darkens the sunlight to millions of men||‘millions of men’ is crossed out by hand in the notes, the phrase ‘to hundreds of millions of men’ added by hand||16||4 / Right|
Among numerous small, substantive differences between the pamphlet and the speech as delivered and later published is inclusion of two notably blunt lines which the original speech notes show were added by hand by Churchill to the final draft: “Britain must arm. America must arm.”
Most significant among the changes to the version Churchill delivered on 16 October is the conclusion. A substantial five-sentence passage – essentially the “hard-sell” to the American people, beginning with the line “Far away, happily protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, you, the people of the United States…” – appears as the final paragraph in the pamphlet but was relocated closer to the mid-point of the speech when delivered.
Speculation about the origin and publication of the pamphlet
While evidence supports a conclusion that the pamphlet was printed prior to delivery of the speech, the dated compliments slip definitively bounds the publication date.
The pamphlet features numerous and noteworthy textual differences from the speech as delivered on 16 October and versions printed subsequently, notably in its first volume publication in a work by Churchill (Into Battle in February 1941).
At this time, evidence available supports speculation that this edition was printed for Churchill prior to delivery of the speech using a late-stage draft of Churchill’s speech notes.
Evidence considered includes:
- The format of the speech is uncommonly large for a speech pamphlet and printed on unusually thick, quality watermarked laid paper.
- While a printer is noted on the lower right rear cover, no publisher is specified.
- The layout of the speech with paragraph breaks for nearly every sentence is more analogous to the manner in which Churchill laid out his speeches for delivery than the more conventional, condensed paragraph format of the final version printed in Into Battle and subsequent publications. Spacing speech lines almost as verses rather than narrative text, Churchill used a distinctive ‘speech form’ or ‘psalm form’ for his speeches for more than half a century. (Gilbert, Vol VIII, p. 1120)
- Churchill is known to have made emendations and revisions to his speeches up until the final moments preceding delivery, including this specific speech. (Churchill’s original typed notes with his hand-made emendations are held by The Chartwell Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, and the text of these original notes is printed in Gilbert, Companion Volume V, Part 3, at pages 1216-1227.)
- Line-by-line comparison of the pamphlet speech text to the notes of the speech as delivered by Churchill reveal substantive differences between the printed pamphlet text and the speech as delivered. Many of these revisions and additions were made by hand in Churchill’s speech notes.
Typos within the speech pamphlet, as well as the numerous and substantive differences from the final text, may explain why no other copies are known. Copies may have been distributed only by Churchill. Changes made to final version of the speech not reflected in the pamphlet would ostensibly have prevented either a large print run or any subsequent editions. The notionally limited distribution, coupled with the large size and comparatively perishable nature of the publication, would help to explain why we find no record of any other copies known to Churchill’s bibliographers or collectors.
While evidence supports a conclusion that the pamphlet was printed prior to delivery of the speech, there is no doubt that it was printed not long thereafter; the presence of the dated “19th November 1938” compliments slip on Chartwell stationery definitively bounds the publication date between mid-October and mid-November 1938.
Condition of the pamphlet is superb. We note no loss, tears, appreciable wear or soiling. A hint of toning and a horizontal crease – ostensibly from when the speech was originally posted – are the only signs of age and handling. The compliments slip on Chartwell stationery is in identical condition, showing only a neat horizontal crease and mild age-toning.
We will supply scans of the pamphlet upon request.
We are pleased to offer this singular and significant item to the collecting community HERE.
First, a downloadable version of our 2016 catalogue of Works by Winston S. Churchill Signed or Inscribed by Churchill is now available on our website. Click HERE or on the image below.
In our catalogue you will find 47 Churchill signatures spanning six decades of his life, from 1900 to 1959. You will also, we hope, find good reading in our detailed descriptions, profusely illustrated with full colo(u)r images.
As the front cover indicates, we approach Churchill with our customary reverential irreverence – fully appreciating Churchill’s magnificence of spirit, of mind, and of will that both embraced and eclipsed his imperfections.
Second, last call for complimentary VIP tickets to the forthcoming book fair in Pasadena, California…
Churchill Book Collector will be at the Pasadena Convention Center on Friday February 12th, Saturday February 13th, and Sunday February 14th for the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair.
This will be an impressive fair, exclusively featuring booksellers who are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the affiliated International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). The ABAA is the oldest association of professional booksellers in America and includes some of the most distinguished names in the book trade. If you are able to come, please visit us in Booth #803.
Unique is a bold word in book collecting. Many items are scarce, rare, or even extravagantly rare. Few are truly singular. This particular item – a WWII archive of the Nazi occupation of Jersey – is genuinely unique, an intimate and intriguing piece of history.
It was not published, but rather privately hand-compiled by a resident of Nazi-occupied Jersey and so is unequivocally the only copy. The Channel Islands were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War, so this archive chronicles that occupation from the perspective of a British citizen of occupied Jersey living under half a decade of Nazi rule.
This archive is made further compelling by the fact that the compiler had it signed by both Churchill and Montgomery in the war’s aftermath.
Churchill chose to sign at the beginning of the album, at the upper right corner of the message from the King announcing the strategic withdrawal from the Channel Islands that precipitated their Nazi occupation. This was, of course, a decision Churchill made very early in his premiership, and for which he bore ultimate responsibility, so it is interesting that he chose to sign here – apparently a different spot from where the album’s compiler had requested he sign.
The fact that Churchill signed in a location different from what was requested is evident from two 1947 letters on House of Commons stationery from Churchill’s secretary, one conveying Churchill’s assent to a request to sign the album and the second returning the signed album. Both letters are pasted into the archive. The correspondence is from Churchill’s Honorary Secretary A. D. Curtis. Churchill’s signature was requested by the archive’s compiler, Ms. Hopper, in December 1946. In January 1947 she received permission to send her album to Churchill, whereupon it was swiftly signed by him and returned to her
The Channel Islands archipelago of British Crown Dependencies is located in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy and is comprised of Jersey (the largest island), Guernsey, and a number of smaller islands. These islands were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. Jersey was occupied from 1 July 1940 to 9 May 1945.
- A 245-page album in its original quarter-leather over cloth binding measuring 10.75 x 8.25 x 2.25 inches and blind-stamped on the spine “Under Two Flags 1st July 1940 – 9th May 1945”.
- A 44-page wire-stitched newsprint pamphlet (no date or printer specified) titled “PRESS” DIARY of Island Life during the German Occupation 1940-1945.
- A 32-page wire-stitched newsprint pamphlet dated “Wednesday, May 23rd, 1945” entitled Report of Five Years of German Occupation by Jurat John Leale, President of the Controlling Committee, States of Guernsey. This pamphlet states “Reprinted from the Guernsey Evening Press”
- Seven original 1942 issues of Guernsey’s newspaper, The Star, spanning January 27 to March 28, published during German occupation and under German censorship.
It is a remarkable piece of history, stuffed with wartime occupation artefacts including newspaper clippings from the Nazi-censored Channel Islands press, orders issued by occupying Nazi forces, stamps issued during the German occupation, German currency, Ms. Hopper’s German identity card, notes on hardships suffered, including clothing, food, health, and deportations of families to Germany, wartime correspondence, and accounts of postwar recovery. The documents within span June 1940 to September 1948.
While the album generally recounts hardship, patriotism, and resilience, among the most interesting items found within is an unsigned and undated typed and hand-corrected portion of a typed sheet that is decidedly reflective: “The idea of the “Hun” or “Boche” has faded from our minds, and most of the Islanders feel a sense of regret that these tall, well-built fellows, more like the English than any other race on earth, should be enemies.”
In June of 1940, only a little over a month after Churchill became wartime Prime Minister, his Chiefs of Staff recommended that the Islands, which could not be defended, be demilitarized, effectively ceding the territory to Nazi Germany. “Churchill opposed this recommendation” saying it was “repugnant now to abandon British territory which had been in the possession of the Crown since the Norman Conquest.” Nonetheless, the Chiefs of Staff defended their conclusion and Churchill deferred to them. (Gilbert, VI, p.573)
Once made, it was a decision to which Churchill steeled himself, refusing several suggestions throughout the war (from Stalin and Montgomery, among others) to devote precious military resources to retaking the strategically ancillary Channel Islands.
Nonetheless, the occupation was a moral nettle – enough for Churchill to comment to Eisenhower in a 4 May 1945 telephone conversation “that the Channel Islands had been in British possession for many centuries, and that he hoped that the [German] surrender would be made to a British Officer.” (Gilbert, VI, p.676)
The album is in very good condition overall, worn at extremities with some insect damage to the rear hinge and shaken, but obviously original and still intact, with contents that show little spotting or deterioration.
The accompanying Guernsey occupation newspapers and the two occupation pamphlets variously show age-toning and some spotting and wear endemic to the newsprint, but are nonetheless in sound condition, noteworthy given their age and perishability.
It has truly been a pleasure to explore and write about this item. This archive will be offered in our forthcoming 2016 catalogue of items signed or inscribed by Churchill. We look forward to helping it find the library of a discerning collector or institution.
All collectors can appreciate the notion of opening a book they have acquired and being pleasantly surprised to find a signature or inscription of the author. That’s not quite what happened to us recently, but what did happen is just as noteworthy.
Recently we acquired a copy of the 1944 wartime reprint of Churchill’s biography of his early life. By itself, the book is a desirable, but unremarkable edition. But this particular copy is anything but unremarkable. When we bought it, we knew it was inscribed. And we knew it was inscribed to the man who helped create and served as custodian of Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms. What we did not find out until we opened the book is that it was presented as a wartime “souvenir” (Churchill’s word for it, not ours!) on the final day of Churchill’s wartime premiership.
The inscription, in black ink in five lines on the front free endpaper, reads: “To | G. Rance | from | Winston S. Churchill | 1945”.
Affixed to the verso of the following blank end sheet is a typed presentation message on “10 Downing Street, Whitehall” stationery. Four typed lines read: “With Mr. Churchill’s Compliments. | A Souvenir of 10, Downing Street | 1940-1945 | 26th July, 1945”. Below the date, the words “Mr. Rance” are inked in black. July 26th would of course be the last day Churchill would have ministerial 10 Downing Street privileges until his second and final premiership began in October 1951.
The Cabinet War Rooms
The sprawling maze of subterranean offices below Whitehall that became the Cabinet War Rooms were meant to provide a secret location safe from air raids for the War Cabinet to meet. The Cabinet War Rooms became fully operational on 27 August 1939, “But it was under Churchill [who became prime minister in May 1940] that it assumed the air of urgency and excitement which a visitor can still feel today.”
Soon after becoming Prime Minister, “Churchill made an inspection of his fortress. He arrived without warning, swept through the rooms, then asked for the exit that let most directly to No. 10 Downing Street.” The Cabinet War Rooms came to serve as the center of Britain’s war effort. Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times.
From here Churchill delivered four of his wartime addresses and “from a room no larger than a lavatory held… conversations with President Roosevelt” using a phone installed for the purpose by the U.S. Signal Corps. “The Cabinet War Rooms were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August 1945, when the lights were turned off in the Map Room for the first time in six years.”
To the 300 people who worked here during the Second World War, it was “The Hole” or simply “down there” but to Churchill it was “This Secret Place.” More than any other individual, the man who helped create and keep it secret was George Rance.
An ex-Army Rifle Brigade sergeant the same age as Churchill, Rance was a member of the Civil Service tasked with filling pay sheets of government ministry charwomen when he was called upon to help set up the Cabinet War Rooms. In this role “Rance proved to be a man of vast talent and enterprise.” It was Rance who fitted out the bunker with furniture, equipment, and supplies, attaching unauthorized applications to legitimate ministry orders and having the surplus material delivered to ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ and then smuggled into the War Rooms. “With Rance holding the only keys and the ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ address effectively becoming the codeword for the entire operation, secrecy was maintained.”
Secrecy was no joke. Despite a reinforced concrete slab up to three metres thick installed above the rooms in December 1940, a hit from anything larger than a 500-pound (227-kg) bomb could have penetrated the building and destroyed the War Rooms.” Hence “Secrecy was the best security for the site.” But this was Churchill’s bunker, and so an intensity and seriousness could never fully suppress impish impulse. Rance made a board with movable strips to indicate the ever-changing English weather outside. The board would be changed to “Windy” when bombing was reported.
“On one occasion, when Churchill was due to return from a journey, Rance was asked by Mrs. Churchill to think up a small surprise. Someone had sent the Old Boss a small black wooden cat as a mascot. Rance made a small wooden wall for the cat to peer over. Churchill was delighted with the gift and put it on his bedside table. On the way back to his office Rance met an august admiral who asked, “How is the Prime Minister?” “Very well, sir,” Rance replied. “When I left him he was playing with his toy cat.”
Churchill had his First World War service revolver and a dagger on his Cabinet War Rooms desk. When George VI paid a visit during the darkest days of the war, he noticed the dagger and asked its purpose. “For Mr. Churchill, sir,” Rance replied. “So that he can use it when Hitler is brought before him.”
Rance ran the bunker throughout the war, eventually receiving an MBE. “If it was the personality of Churchill that gave This Secret Place its character, it was the skill of George Rance that kept things running smoothly… Both were old soldiers. Both were the same age… Of course one was the Prime Minister and the other the custodian, but it was more a feeling of the colonel of the Regiment and the Regimental Sergeant-Major.” To Churchill’s requests, Rance would most often respond with “Saah” stamp his foot. But if Churchill “wanted Rance to do something that Rance felt was out of order, Rance did not hesitate to say so.” Churchill spent so much time in the Cabinet War Rooms that he literally argued with Rance over placement of his bed (an argument which Rance won).
In 1950 when Rance retired, Churchill wrote to him: “This secret place began under the address ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ and under your faithful custody it remained until it grew into the great wartime centre.” In 1965, at the age of 91, Rance sat in a back pew of St. Paul’s Cathedral during Churchill’s state funeral. “He remembered then the few gruff words that had passed between the ex Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the ex-Sergeant of the Rifle Brigade when the war was over. ‘I suppose, Rance,’ Churchill had said ‘you think I don’t know all you have done. Well, I do. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Clearly, Churchill did remember Rance with gratitude. On July 26, 1945, having done so much to win the war, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his Conservatives lost the British General Election. That day, Churchill resigned, yielding the premiership to Clement Atlee. It is on this very day – the last of his wartime premiership and the last day that 10 Downing Street stationery would bear messages from Churchill until October 1951 – that this inscribed copy was presented to George Rance.
Edition and condition
This is the fourth and final 1944 wartime reprint of Churchill’s extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. Macmillan acquired the rights after the original publisher, Thornton Butterworth, went under in 1940. During the war, Macmillan issued these desirable reprints (issued from first edition plates) in dark blue cloth wrapped in attractive tan dust jackets.
Two more surprises awaited us when we examined this book. First was finding this inscribed presentation copy remained in near fine condition, clean and tight with unusually well-preserved binding and contents. The second was finding what appears to be an old copy of Rance’s invitation to Churchill’s state funeral laid in between the pages.
See this book offered for sale on our website HERE.
We recently had the privilege of cataloguing a remarkable, inscribed first edition set of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Only one collector will have the good fortune of being this set’s next owner, but it is compelling enough to merit sharing with a wider audience. Hence this post.
This set is inscribed and dated in three volumes to Churchill’s close friend and indispensable wartime Chief of Staff, General Lord Hastings Lionel “Pug” Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay (1887-1965). Each of the three volumes is intimately inscribed using Ismay’s nickname and Churchill’s first name.
Volume II is inscribed in five lines in black ink: “To | Pug | from | Winston | November 1956”.
We became hand in glove and much more…”
(Churchill, The Gathering Storm, 1948)
This was Churchill’s own and ultimate tribute to his friend.
When Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, he also assumed appointment as Minister of Defence. Ismay served as Churchill’s Chief of Staff in that capacity and others, for Churchill’s entire wartime premiership. During the war, Ismay also served as Deputy Secretary to the War Cabinet. Ismay described his role thus: “I had three sets of responsibilities. I was Chief of Staff Officer to Mr. Churchill; I was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; and I was head of the Office of the Minister of Defence. Thus I was a cog which had to operate in three separate though intimately connected mechanisms.” Less formally, Ismay summarized: “I had a legitimate foot in every camp – naval, military, air, as well as political. I did not have a finger in every pie, but it was my duty to know about all the pies that were being cooked and how they were getting on.” (Ismay, Memoirs, p.168)
Ismay’s position was unique, both in the confidence he enjoyed and the scope and duration of his service. “Hundreds of Churchill’s famous minutes and the replies to them were personally handled by Ismay, who commanded the prime minister’s absolute trust. He was the essential link with the chiefs of staff… Difficult allies respected him as much as did difficult colleagues. On delicate missions abroad, amid growing responsibilities for the most secret matters, from 1940 to 1945 Ismay endured strains more continuous than any battle-commander, and sometimes equally intense. Not even Sir Alan Brooke was so exposed to the exigencies and exhaustion of intimate work with Churchill by day and by night.” Ismay was “Shrewd, resilient, accessible, emollient in diplomacy but of an unbreachable integrity.” (ODNB)
When Churchill’s second premiership began in October 1951, Ismay was first appointed Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and, swiftly thereafter, Secretary-General of NATO, a post he held from 1952 until his retirement in 1957.
Even Ismay’s early career was deeply shaped by his future Prime Minister and patron. As a young officer in India in 1910 “Mr. Winston Churchill, whom I had never met, and, as it then seemed, was unlikely ever to meet, exercised a decisive influence on my future.” Despite shock that “anyone who had started so brilliantly should have thrown it all up and gone into Parliament” Ismay was critically inspired by Churchill’s intrepid early accomplishments with both sword and pen. Ismay felt “on the whole, I could not do better than try to emulate the example of his early years” and resolved to apply himself diligently to both active service opportunities and self-education. This included close reading of Churchill’s The River War (which he would argumentatively quote to Churchill more than three decades later). (Ismay, Memoirs, pp.15-16)
Like Churchill, Ismay was educated at Sandhurst and saw early service as a cavalry officer in India. Unlike Churchill, Ismay did not leave soldiering for politics. By the early 1920s, recognition of his talents and his performance at the Staff College in Quetta ended Ismay’s regimental soldiering. Ismay would serve the Committee of Imperial Defence in various capacities, becoming CID Deputy Secretary in 1936 and Secretary in 1938, and being promoted major-general in 1939. “Inadequacies of government policy made the months before and immediately after the outbreak of war in 1939 the most frustrating of his life.” (ODNB) But in April 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain chose Ismay to assist Churchill in his role as chairman of the ministerial co-ordinating committee. A month later Churchill became Prime Minister. Ismay would be promoted Lieutenant-General in 1942 and General in 1944, and made Baron in 1947.
Both their close bond and Churchill’s reliance upon Ismay endured after Churchill’s wartime premiership. When Churchill wrote his six volume war memoirs, Ismay was his principal advisor on all military questions. (Gilbert, VIII, p.221) “With Ismay as a guide, Churchill knew that he could be certain of a careful, accurate scrutiny of his work, and the bringing in wherever necessary of other experts and helpers.” (Gilbert, VIII, p.235) Ismay proved as indispensable in this as he had in the war, providing a steady stream of substantive notes and documents, edits and amendments, recollections, and perspective. Bill Deaken later recalled “Ismay read everything on the military side. He was frequently a guest at Chartwell and at Hyde Park Gate. He loved Winston with a passion. Winston relied on his judgement. He had no military confidant except Ismay.” Gilbert, VIII, p.315)
One anecdote among many testifies to the depth of a personal relationship that underpinned and transcended shared service: Within hours of becoming Prime Minister for the second and final time on 26 October 1951, Churchill phoned Ismay, rousing him from sleep: “Is that you, Pug?” “Yes, Prime Minister. It’s grand to be able to call you Prime Minister again.” “I want to see you at once. You aren’t in bed, are you?” Ismay recalled “I put my head under a cold tap, dressed in record time, and was at 28, Hyde Park Gate within a quarter of an hour of being wakened… I was overjoyed at the prospect of serving under Churchill again.” (Ismay, Memoirs, pp.452-453)
When Churchill inscribed these books to Ismay, both men were entering their twilight, both adding final words to a lifetime of deeds. Two years after Churchill inscribed his final volume of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples to “Pug,” Ismay’s own Memoirs were published, opening with a Tribute from Churchill “to the signal services which Lord Ismay has rendered to our country, and to the free world, in peace and war. Churchill was the guest of honor at a London dinner to celebrate the publication of Ismay’s Memoirs. (Gilbert, VIII, p.1315) Both men died in 1965.
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples is Churchill’s sweeping history and last great work. The first draft was completed just before the Second World War, but the work was not completed and published until after Churchill’s second and final Premiership, nearly 20 years later. The work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself.
The first British edition is regarded as one of the most beautiful productions of Churchill’s works, with tall red volumes and striking, illustrated dust jackets. Churchill seems to have taken an active and detailed interest in the aesthetics of the publication. He told his doctor: “it is not necessary to break the back of the book to keep it open. I made them take away a quarter of an inch from the outer margins of the two pages and then add the half-inch so gained to the inner margin.” He was clearly satisfied with the result, remarking with pardonable exuberance “It opens like an angel’s wings.” (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.1184) Unfortunately, as beautiful as the first editions are, they proved somewhat fragile. The dust jackets commonly suffer significant fading, wear, soiling, and spotting, and the books typically bear spotting and fading of the red-stained top edges.
To read more about the first edition of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples in our online Guide to Churchill’s Books, click HERE.
In recent years, several items inscribed by Churchill to Lord Ismay have been offered, but few as first edition sets in original bindings. The inscriptions would make this set special even if it were rebound and later printing, but the fact that it is first printings in original bindings makes it especially compelling.
This set is currently offered for sale HERE.