• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 57

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('W') to Pamela, Countess of Lytton, Venice, 19 September 1907, 8 pages, 8vo, on Colonial Office stationery. Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

    Price Realised  

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('W') to Pamela, Countess of Lytton, Venice, 19 September 1907, 8 pages, 8vo, on Colonial Office stationery. Provenance: Pamela, Countess of Lytton; and by descent.

    'I HAVE VERY FEW FRIENDS - BUT WHY SHOULD I HAVE MORE?': news of French military manoeuvres and a further summer tour. Churchill is with Sunny [his cousin Charles, 9th Duke of Marlborough] in Venice, and rejoices at a letter from Pamela as a reminder of her friendship -- 'alas with my busy selfish life -- I fear, as it is, I fail too often in the little offices which keep friendship sweet & warm. But you always understand'. He has been constantly on the move since his departure from England -- first at the French military manoeuvres, where his party was received 'with almost royal honours and I think even down to the private soldiers they were genuinely pleased to see us'; he has written a report, which Pamela may find boring, 'all dull technical stuff -- bad for kittens so long accustomed to cream!'. Since then he has motored through France and Italy to Venice, and is about to set off for Vienna, and then Eichhorn. He sends a request for 'fine, but strong gauze' and 'long, soft, buttonless ladies gloves ... if you can find any that will be big enough for my masculine paws': these are both for his impending stay in Central Africa, to keep off 'those detestable poisonous mosquitos -- who tell lies -- & even truths & make so much mischief in England, & who in Central Africa bite one to death'. In Venice, life is good: Sunny is isolated, and was pleased to see him; otherwise Churchill spends his time in a 'dream of fair women. You will think me a pasha. I wish I were'. But he protests that it is a greater pleasure to write to Pamela than to see 'these strange glittering beings with whom I have little or nothing in common' -- this comment is private, and only 'for the especial delectation of the demure kitten purring & prinking over what I trust will ever be to her the sweet & abundant milk of life'.

    Churchill's projected trip was an unofficial extension of his first ministerial role, as under-secretary at the Colonial Office, 'a tour of east Africa which began as a hunting expedition but turned into a semi-official enquiry into colonial affairs' (ODNB): it was to form the basis of My African Journey (1908).


    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.