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    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 53

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston S. Churchill') to Pamela Plowden, Birch House, Lees, Oldham, 2 July [1899], 5½ pages, 8vo. Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

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    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston S. Churchill') to Pamela Plowden, Birch House, Lees, Oldham, 2 July [1899], 5½ pages, 8vo. Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

    'I AM CONSCIOUS OF GROWING POWERS': THE FIRST STEPS OF A POLITICAL CAREER. With days to go until the election at Oldham, Churchill feels the flowering of his political abilities: 'I now make speeches involuntarily. Yesterday I delivered no fewer than eight'; the result is still uncertain, though 'There is no doubt that I personally have made a very good impression'; much depends on the Trades Unions, and there are 'so many cross currents in this fight that the regular party tides are disturbed'; Churchill delivers a bitter aside about [George] Whitely, whose resignation and speech had been a setback -- 'I will make him regret his treachery one of these days' -- but rejoices in the exhilaration of the experience -- 'the succession of great halls packed with excited people until there was not room for one single person more ... Intermittent flashes of Heat & Light & enthusiasm -- with cold air and the rattle of a carriage in between'. Above all, there is a sense of the birth of his political and rhetorical abilities: 'I improve every time -- I have hardly repeated myself at all -- And at each meeting I am conscious of growing powers -- and facilities of speech -- and it is in this that I shall find my consolation should the result be -- as is probable -- unfortunate'; ending on a characteristic note of romantic yearning tempered by robust optimism, 'I have had you in my mind more perhaps this week than ever ... The London papers are fulsome, and if there is a severe reverse here they will have made me seem very ridiculous. But after all -- the battle in the end must be to the strong'.

    The Oldham by-election of 1899 ended in a narrow loss for the Churchill-Mawdsley ticket. In the General Election of the following year, made famous by his South African exploits, Churchill was elected to the same seat with a narrow majority.


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