Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill on the Riviera Final Details of the "Duke of Marlborough"

On His Way to the French Riviera, Winston Churchill Goes Over Final Details of the Last Volume of His Biography of the Duke of Marlborough

“I hope you got the blurb all right. It was intended for a guide and you are at liberty to make additions to it, as the responsibility for it rests with the firm. It would be well, however, to send me a proof if time permits.”

With this letter, Winston Churchill sends three heavily edited chapters of Volume IV of his four-volume biography of his ancestor, John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). He also discusses many final details, including the format of long quotations, illustrations, the index, and even the blurb. George G. Harrap & Company published the final volume later in 1938.

Churchill was in Paris for a few days on his way to a short vacation in Cannes on the French Riviera. There, he stayed at Chateau de l’Horizon, the modernist villa of American actress Maxine Elliott (1868-1940), constructed in 1932 by American architect Barry Dierks. 

WINSTON CHURCHILL, Typed Letter Signed, to Charles C. Wood, January 4, 1938, Paris. 2 pp., 8" x 10", on “British Embassy, Paris” stationery.  Expected fold; pages attached with string through holes in upper left corner; very good.

“I send you herewith three chapters in which I have made heavy cuts, in order to see how the changes will look. We waste space in having a great many extracts of only five or six lines in small print; there are the short heads, there are the dates and the white lines attaching to each of them. It is much better in these small extracts to use the large type in inverted commas, and run straight through the paragraph with dots representing omissions where necessary.”

“Please send two copies only of each of these chapters to me in three separate envelopes at the Chateau de l’Horizon, Cannes, as soon as possible.”

“Have any of the diagrams to be inserted in the text yet been put on the stone? I have passed at least twenty.... There will be others still to come but let us get as many as we can.... I hope you got the blurb all right. It was intended for a guide and you are at liberty to make additions to it, as the responsibility for it rests with the firm. It would be well, however, to send me a proof if time permits. Pray write to me fully on these various points.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was born to a British father and American mother at his family’s ancestral home in Oxfordshire, England. After education at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Churchill served as an army officer in India and Africa and became an accomplished writer. Over a political career that spanned fifty years, he held many political and cabinet positions, including First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 to 1915 and again from 1939 to 1940. In 1922, Churchill bought the manor house of Chartwell in Kent, and he later spent most of his retirement there. During the 1930s, he took the lead in warning against Nazi Germany’s hostile ambitions. He served as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. His speeches inspired British resistance to Nazi Germany, especially in 1940-1941, when the United Kingdom stood almost alone against Adolf Hitler. After suffering a serious stroke in 1953, he retired from political office in 1955. In 1963, he became the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Charles C. Wood (1875-1959) joined the publishing firm of George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., in 1912. He served as chief copy editor on Churchill’s monumental biography, Marlborough: His Life and Times, published in four volumes between 1933 and 1938.  In 1948, Churchill hired the retired Wood to proofread his massive multi-volume work, The Second World War. Wood joined Churchill’s staff of secretaries, research assistants, and advisors. Wood became “an essential member of the team and no error escaped his eye.” Wood was as abrasive as Churchill was demanding, and Churchill once called Wood “indefatigable, interminable, intolerable.” The process of proofreading both The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples was called “wooding.”

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


Item: 67457

Price: $3,250.00
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Winston Churchill
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