• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 56

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston') to Pamela Plowden ('My Pamela'), n.p. [near Colenso], [21]-25 February [1900], 5 pages, 8vo (later annotation in pen to upper margin of first page). Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

    Price Realised  

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston') to Pamela Plowden ('My Pamela'), n.p. [near Colenso], [21]-25 February [1900], 5 pages, 8vo (later annotation in pen to upper margin of first page). Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

    THE LAST STAGES OF THE CAMPAIGN TO RELIEVE LADYSMITH: 'You know the end of the Spionkop action. Vaalkrantz was to my mind even worse. But at last the sky begins to brighten [...] With God's help we shall relieve Ladysmith tomorrow'; Churchill has constantly been in the thick of the action, in his twin roles with the South African Light Horse and as a special correspondent, but he is unscathed, 'preserved by my strange luck, or the favour of Heaven -- which you will -- perhaps because I am to be of use'. His brother Jack, by contrast, was wounded in his first skirmish, even though he was lying down and Winston was 'walking about without any cover'. Churchill sends tempered sympathy -- 'Poor bird' -- for Pamela's grief at the death of her young half-brother: 'Babies' deaths are the least sad of all partings: but women feel them most'. The letter resumes four days later from the thick of the action: 'here I sit on a rocky hill without any conveniences for writing ... Moreover they have begun shelling us again which is a nuisance'; he has had a close escape from a shrapnel burst, and casualties are heavy, but 'My nerves were never better and I think I care less for bullets every day'.

    In his dual role as war correspondent and cavalry lieutenant, Churchill had acted as a courier during the battle of Spion Kop. The fourth attempt at relieving Ladysmith finally succeeded three days after the present letter, on 28 February.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    Buyers from within the EU: VAT payable at 17.5% on just the buyer's premium (NOT the hammer price) Buyers from outside the EU: VAT payable at 17.5% on hammer price and buyer's premium. If a buyer, having registered under a non-EU address, decides that an item is not to be exported from the EU, then he/she should advise Christie's to this effect immediately.