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Autograph Letter from Winston Churchill to Sir Algernon West, 13 March 1896
1896. No binding. Very good. I read with very great attention the copy of your article on my father's life... There is not one word or one sentence I should wish to add or take away. I am very sorry that I could not give you any information myself - but, as I told you, my memories are slender & few. My mother and I feel very grateful to you for writing what you have written." This is a 3-page, 172 word letter written on 13 March 1896 entirely in Churchill's hand to Sir Algernon West regarding West's draft article about Churchill's recently deceased father. The letter intimates Churchill's painfully distant relationship with his father and is signed twice - once in full and then initialed "WSC" at the postscript. The Rt. Hon. Sir Algernon Edward West GCB (1832-1921) was a distinguished civil servant perhaps best known as Private Secretary to Gladstone. Churchill apparently formed an admiring and somewhat confiding relationship with West after Lord Randolph's death. West published "Lord Randolph as an Official" in the October 1896 issue of "Nineteenth Century". Positive testimony from a respected source impacted Churchill. He would quote West's article in his own 1906 biography of his father and access West's private papers while researching his father's life. Testifying to his personal relationship with West, Churchill added in a postscript that his mother was ill and prevailed on West to "call & see her". Churchill was 21 years old, just returned from Cuba (his first experience in combat and as a war correspondent), and beginning six months at Aldershot with the 4th Hussars before departure to India. Lord Randolph had died just a year previous in January 1895 at age 45 following the spectacular collapse of both his health and political career. The Official Biography references Churchill writing to West in October 1896 after he read the published article, but not this letter, in which Churchill provides pre-publication comments on the article, inferentially at West's invitation. Churchill's reference to his "tedious course of signalling at Aldershot" and the "March. 13." date place this letter seven months before West's article was published. This letter is written on 35A Great Cumberland Place stationery, the address of the Georgian mansion near Hyde Park where Churchill's mother lived from 1895-1900. The letter is written in black ink on 8 x 10 inch laid paper stationery with Lady Randolph's address printed in blue. The stationery was folded vertically, ostensibly for writing, the letter filling three of the four panels. A horizontal crease is presumably the result of posting. The paper is lightly soiled to the exterior panels, particularly at edges and creases, but in very good condition overall, with only fractional tears at the vertical crease ends and a few tiny perforations at the upper left. An apparently cavalier and confused previous researcher wrote "97" with a "?" in pencil, later crossed out in pencil and replaced in red ink with "96?" and the word "yes" presumably confirming this correct date. This writing appears below the printed address and above Churchill's salutation. We will provide additional images or full transcribed text upon request. Upon publication, West's article prompted further correspondence recorded in the Official Biography. Churchill left England for India in September 1896 and on 8 October Lady Randolph sent West's article to him. On 26 October 1896 Winston replied from Bangalore: "I read with great care Sir A. West's article in the Nineteenth Century and I certainly think it is the best and most valuable writing that has appeared as yet about papa. Reading it gave me a delightful morning's occupation and has made me equally low and despondent this evening. I wrote a long letter to Sir. A. which I addressed to Cumberland Place and which I hope you will have forwarded to the proper address.
      [Bookseller: Churchill Book Collector]
Last Found On: 2013-12-03           Check availability:      Biblio    

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