Churchill Collection

The Churchill Collection was recently enhanced with an extraordinary donation of works from the collection of the late F. Bartlett Watt made possible by the generosity of Lucienne Watt, Fred and Anne Stinson, and other members of the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (Toronto).

The collection includes first and numerous other editions of Churchill's works, original letters, memorabilia, and important works about Churchill.

How to find Churchill Collection items in the U of T Libraries catalogue

See complete list of items in the Trinity College Churchill Collection in the U of T Libraries Catalogue.

An embossed plate picturing the back of a man in an overcoate and hat and the word "Churhill" above.

Selections from the Watt Collection of Churchilliana
Given to the John W. Graham Library in 2002
by Anne and Fred Stinson, Lucienne Watt, and Other Donors from the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy


Notes for an Exhibit in the Saunderson Rare Books Room

This exhibit shows only a small portion of more than a thousand items of Churchilliana--books, pamphlets, letters, documents, memorabilia--from the splendid collection formed by the late F. Bartlett Watt. Through the generosity of many donors, this collection was acquired for Trinity College's John W. Graham Library. This exhibit is not so much representative as indicative--a preliminary view of what will most certainly be an extraordinarily rich resource for scholars and students in the years to come.

I: Translations

The works of Winston Churchill were translated into many languages and published abroad in numerous editions, of which the Graham Library has received nearly one hundred from the Watt collection--in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Swedish. Especially notable among these are ones from Churchill's own library at Chartwell, including several beautifully bound presentation copies sent to Churchill by his publisher.

II: Letters & Facsimiles

Three Churchill letters were acquired from the Watt collection. The earliest appears to have been sent to "G.S.", who has been tentatively identified as George Warrington Steevens (1869-1900), a foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail who died of enteric fever at Ladysmith during the siege. Churchill returns a proof, with "compliments on the style" and gratitude for the "friendly tone", and recommends that the recipient "stick to practical politics": he advises, "You will not be able to create a new world; but you might easily improve the conditions of these islands." In another letter dated  8 May 1944 Churchill dismisses Lord Noel-Buxton's petition pressing the case for a negotiated peace: "Your letter gives me the impression that you have not the slightest conception of the perils which lie ahead before we can establish a world peace order." The third letter, written on Churchill's behalf, requests permission from Cassell publishers to reprint excerpts from Churchill's speeches in propaganda leaflets for dissemination by air over France. This letter is singularly interesting and valuable here because of its relevance to a substantial collection of such leaflets given by Bart Watt to the Library several years ago.

Churchill's version of the "form letter" is represented above in two facsimiles. Such facsimiles were commonly used by Churchill and have occasionally been mistaken for the real thing [i.e., personal handwritten letters] by collectors. They are, of course, interesting in themselves, as "real" facsimiles.

III. The Story of the Malakand Field Force (London, 1898)

The twenty-two-year-old Churchill's first book, in which a reviewer says "there's not an awkward passage", appeared in several early editions: displayed here are copies of the state of the first edition with the errata slip; the Colonial edition with the unusual form of the author's name--"Winston L. Spencer Churchill"; Copp Clark's Canadian issue; and the scarce issue in paper wrappers, many of which would have been discarded.  The only edition of Malakand published between 1916 and 1990 was the Swedish translation of 1944.

The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (London, 1899)

The beautiful two-volume first edition of The River War was abridged for the second edition (1902), notably by excising attacks on Kitchener (as well as folding maps and other detailed material). Now a member of Parliament, Churchill writes in the new preface, "What has been jettisoned consists mainly of personal impressions and opinions, often controversial in character, which, however just, were not essential." This is a vivid example of the importance of having variant editions of a published work. Most later editions have been based on this abridgement.

IV: Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania (New York, 1899)

Churchill's only novel was first published in book-form in New York, possibly because it was being serialized in England. A 1957 paperback edition featuring a lurid cover with characters in modern dress must have been intended to promote sales of the critically unsuccessful work. Possibly the most beautifully produced of any Churchill work is the French translation of Savrola (Monaco, 1950) with illustrations by André Collot. The Watt copy, in the original unbound sheets and slipcase, is no.5 of the first 50, which includes two original designs by the artist.

V: London to Ladysmith Via Pretoria (London, 1900) and Ian Hamilton's March (London, 1900)

Based on Churchill's coverage of the Boer War for The Morning Post, including his experience as a prisoner in Pretoria, these volumes are often cited to illustrate his advanced attitudes to race, in contrast to prevailing British views of the times, and his impressive early, comprehensive grasp of the realities of the military enterprise. The Canadian editions, shown here in both pictorial cloth and paper wrappers, are particularly scarce.

Mr. Brodrick's Army (London, 1903) 

As a young member of Parliament, between May 1901 and February 1903, Churchill delivered six "oratorical onslaughts" against the Army reforms proposed by St. John Brodrick, then Secretary for War. Speculation that this booklet containing the text of those speeches, now among the rarest of Churchill's works, was first published at Churchill's own expense, on the premise that publisher Arthur Humphreys ran what amounted to a vanity press out of Hatchard's Picadilly bookshop, has now been convincingly refuted by the Churchill bibliographer, Ronald Cohen. Churchill's case against expanding the peacetime army, though perhaps disputable in the light of later history, is expressed in his finest early oratory. The proposed three army corps, he writes, would serve neither as deterrent nor protection: "If we are hated, they will not make us loved. If we are in danger, they will not make us safe. They are enough to irritate; they are not enough to overawe. Yet, while they cannot make us invulnerable, they may very likely make us venturesome."

VI: My African Journey (London, 1908)

First published in shorter form in Strand Magazine, this work of the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies shows Churchill's awareness of issues related to the welfare of East Africa that remain unresolved today. The early editions contain photographs said to have been taken by Churchill himself, the only instance of such in the canon. The Canadian edition displayed here has a pictorial cover identical to the first English edition except for "Briggs" on the spine, in contrast to the scarcer, plain-bound U.S. edition. The 1909 cheap edition in colour wrappers is rare today.

Liberal Party Publications

From the colourful drama of My African Journey Churchill moved to serious political issues richly reflected in speeches supporting the agenda of the Liberal Party, many published versions of which are included in the Watt Collection. Of importance for scholars using this collection are bound volumes that include not only Churchill's, but other party members' speeches of the time.

VII: Liberalism and the Social Problem (London, 1909)

Dedicated to his new wife, a lifelong Liberal, these speeches address a range of issues that had engaged Churchill as the fiery young Liberal during the Party's heyday, from the importance of free trade to the need for various social reforms seen as attacks on the Conservatives, the interests of the rich, and the land speculators. (This later Australian edition of The Menace of Land Monopoly (1941) excerpts two 1909 speeches.) Here he also defends Lloyd George's radical People's Budget, (1909), which, with The People's Insurance and The People's Rights (1910), represents, as Alistair Cooke put it, the efforts of the Liberal Party's "great vaudeville team" of Churchill and Lloyd George as they campaigned in the 1910 general election. Churchill eloquently distinguished Liberalism from Socialism in many contexts during these years: "Socialism wants to pull down wealth. Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty." 

VIII: The Time Table of a Nightmare (1913)

This fictional scenario was written as a "confidential paper" detailing how a German invasion of the United Kingdom might proceed. Reactions from the naval personnel to whom it was distributed varied, including both objections to its deliberately "alarmist" style and admission of the accuracy of its facts. It was printed at the Foreign Office on 4 June 1913; this copy has the note "put by" in Churchill's hand. Another paper by Churchill on a possible hostile invasion, A Bolt from the Grey follows in this 1913 Foreign Office printing.  

Minutes of Proceedings before the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors, 6 parts (7 - 21 October 1919)

An important source for understanding Churchill's key role in the development of tank warfare (while he was First Lord of the Admiralty!), this document prints his letter to the Prime Minister (Asquith) of 5 January 1915 and includes extensive cross-examination of Churchill by members of the Commission, as well as references to him during all six days of the proceedings.

The World Crisis, 5 volumes in 6 (London, 1923-31)

In his own words "not history, but a contribution to history", Churchill's account of World War I and its aftermath stands as one of his most compelling works, as it celebrates the Allied victory and honours the values of those who suffered from an inadequate political and military command. The first English edition is accompanied here by an advance copy of the two-volume edition of part 3 (1916-18) and a rough proof of the one-volume abridgement (London, 1931).

IX: My Early Life (London, 1930)

Written at a time when some thought Churchill's political career finished, this autobiographical work was deemed by the TLS reviewer "his finest literary achievement…. One fancies one hears the small boy, the youth at Sandhurst, the young soldier, the slightly older politician each telling his story in his own way."  It was one of two works excerpted for the Nobel Library when Churchill won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature. The Watt copy of the first U.S. edition, entitled A Roving Commission, is displayed here with its reproduction dust jacket.

Demosthenes Demobilised: A Record of Cambridge Union Society Debates February, 1919 - June, 1920 (Cambridge, 1920)

As Secretary of State for War and the distinguished visitor for this debate, Churchill argued against the motion that "the time is now ripe for a Labour Government" in "one of the most brilliant speeches we have ever heard at the Union…the atmosphere was almost electrical."

India (London, 1931)

This collection of speeches was intended to marshal support against the India Bill, which Churchill thought would lead to the Empire's loss of India. While the Bill passed Parliament in 1935 (in spite of Churchill's extraordinary broadcast address, India: 'The Great Betrayal' (1935), and indeed, Churchill was later to accede to Indian independence in 1948, these earlier arguments are of considerable interest to political historians, as well as students of Churchillian rhetoric. An Indian view of Churchill's position is expressed in the displayed pamphlet, one of many fascinating supplementary items in the Watt collection.

Great Contemporaries (London, 1937)

To the twenty-one profiles of the first edition, Churchill added four additional ones for the 1938 revised edition, including, notably, that of Franklin Roosevelt. Subsequent editions of this work show strategic revisions, such as removal of the sketches of Trotsky, Savinkov and Roosevelt in the 1942 Macmillan edition, which also added the date "1935" to the title of the sketch "Hitler and His Choice".

X: Addresses Delivered in the Year Nineteen Hundred and Forty to the People of Great Britain, of France, and to the Members of the English House of Commons (San Francisco, 1940)

A limited edition of 250 copies produced by the Grabhorn Press for a San Francisco department store, this fine large edition is actually the first appearance in book form of these speeches, which were later printed in Into Battle. Illustrating format extremes is one of the several miniature editions of Churchill's works, an excerpt from his speech of 4 June 1940, printed in Los Angeles in 1964. A fine 1972 Leeds edition of this speech calls it "Churchill's greatest speech" and points to its continuing relevance as Britain "seems to be moving into an association with Europe".

XI: War Speeches

Many important collected editions of Churchill's speeches have been published, with significant variations among them that were mainly the author's own editorial revisions. The Graham Library's Churchill collection includes a large number of these volumes. Of exceptional interest among the Library's acquisitions from the Watt collection are the dozens of separately published speeches delivered at home and abroad throughout Churchill's career, but particularly during the course of World War II. The mode of publication ranges from newspaper "offprints" to private press mementos. On display are two special editions of Churchill's famous speech to the U.S. Congress on 26 December 1941: one produced by the Overbrook Press in Stamford, Connecticut, another issued in England with a preface calling it "a speech which may well go down in history as THE speech in a thousand years--together with a Cartoon reproduced from Puck and published about the beginning of the century, which is equally appropriate at the present time." The Daily Telegraph edition of this speech pairs it with the well-known address to the Canadian Parliament a few days later in which Churchill's observation in response to the French claim that "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken", provokes loud laughter and prolonged cheers: "Some chicken! Some neck!"

Their Finest Hour: Speeches, Broadcasts and Messages (1940). Twenty-one Churchill speeches were published in both joint and individual issues by newpapers in Winnipeg, Regina, and Saskatoon, "for the strength and inspiration which they provide". Although the cover identifies this as no. 1, copyright difficiulties in both Canada and Britain prevented publication of further volumes in the series.

XII: The Second World War. Vols. 5 & 6. Advance proof copies. 1952, 1954

These advance proof copies are of considerable importance because of the numerous changes Churchill made during stages of the publication process.

XIII: Periodical publications

Many of Churchill's works appeared in several versions and formats under his own editorial watch. Prominently among these variants was the periodical article, often a serialization. Shown here are just a few examples illustrating the range of periodicals in which Churchill appeared, from the British Strand Magazine and Pictorial Weekly, to Canada's Liberty and even Popular Mechanics Magazine in the U.S.

XIV: Ephemera and Artifacts

Among the books, pamphlets, periodical articles, and government documents acquired from the Watt collection, there are also many fascinating specimens of "ephemera" or "memorabilia". Displayed here as examples are Churchill's personal visiting card, an Ogden's Guinea Gold Cigarettes card portrait from 1900, a 1914 souvenir portrait on silk, a tear-off card for readers to send to Churchill on his 80th birthday. Another postcard with an attached reply card of a more serious intent is Churchill's 1936 "Message" urging support for the New Commonwealth Society "in order to prevent the horror and ruin of another World War".

Presentations of the "Freedom of the City" and Other Honours 

Ceremonial programmes or other memorabilia associated with Churchill's acceptance of the Honorary Freedom of the City from many British and European cities were included in the Watt gift. Among items displayed are a postcard picturing the official presentation document from the city of Luxembourg, the menu from a celebratory luncheon in Portsmouth, as well as the elaborate Westminster order of proceedings. Also on display are records of Canada's tribute at a dinner at the Canadian Club on the eve of Churchill's eightieth birthday, of his being made an honorary American Indian in recognition of his mother's Iroquois ancestry (prior to becoming an honorary citizen of the United States), and of his honorary degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities.

Prefaces and Tributes by Churchill.

Brief prefaces or forewords to books or other minor, sometimes formulaic or perfunctory writings do not normally command a great deal of scholarly interest, but virtually nothing Churchill wrote proves, on investigation, to be without interest. Shown here is a sampling of such publications.

Exhibit and notes prepared by Linda Corman, April 2003.