Winston Churchill: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Posted on Jan 29, 2018

London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1956–58 4 volumes, octavo.
Original dark red cloth, titles gilt to spines, red top-stain.

All 4 volumes have original dust jackets.
All volumes illustrated with maps and genealogical tables.
Some light foxing, top-stain variably faded, otherwise very good in slightly worn dust jackets.

History English Speaking People 4vols

History English Speaking People 4vols in original Dustjackets

First editions, first impressions.
This set inscribed identically in
vols. I and II: “To Dr. Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, Christmas 1956”;
vol. III with a printed facsimile holograph compliments slip, “With all good wishes Winston S. Churchill”;
vol. IV inscribed “To David Myrddin Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, March 1958.”

Together with these 4 volumes of the History of the English Speaking People are:
three Christmas cards, from Winston and Clementine, with paintings by Churchill, one of them signed by Clemmie;
a short typed letter, dated 5 December 1957, on 28 Hyde Park Gate stationery signed by Churchill;
a two-page hand-written note signed by Clementine, dated 2 April 1958, addressed to Mrs. Riley, Roberts’s mother-in-law, together with the original envelope;
two telegrams, one from Clementine in 1962, and one from Winston in 1964.

Christmas Cards from Winston & Clementine Churchill

Christmas Cards from Winston & Clementine Churchill

Christmas Card from Winston & Clementine Churchill together with Mrs Riley's (Dr Robert's mother) Address

Christmas Card from Winston & Clementine Churchill together with Mrs Riley’s (Dr Robert’s mother) Address

Churchill seems to have first made contact with Dr. Roberts in the late 1940s. Roberts “who had been invalided out of the Royal Air Force with a 90% disability pension, practiced medicine in Monte Carlo, with permission of the French authorities, on condition that he treated only British patients” (Gilbert, VIIII, p.485n). In the summer of 1949 Churchill was staying at Beaverbrook’s villa, La Capponcina, whilst working on the proofs of vol. IV of The Second World War. During an evening playing cards with Beaverbrook he was stricken with “cramp” in his right arm and leg, “cramp” which had not abated by the following morning; “Dr. Roberts was called in, and at once telephoned to Lord Moran, ‘I think Mr. Churchill has had a stroke,’ he said. ‘I would like you to see him as soon as you can. Lord Moran flew at once to Nice.” Subsequently, Roberts was frequently called to deal with Churchill’s minor ailments, very much part of the Riviera team, receiving the first two volumes here as a Christmas perquisite in 1956, Winston considering him “a good man” and assuring Clemmie in 1957 that “I see the Doctor every few days, but not with any definite cause. Dr. Roberts is a very nice fellow and he looks me over with a reassuring air which has a beneficial effect” (Gilbert p. 1243). The first of the accompanying documents mentions two letters to be forwarded to a Dr. Vialle and a Mr. Panuzzi, and thanks Roberts “very much for the trouble you took in the matter.” This may relate to the visit of an “aurist” that Roberts arranged when Churchill was having trouble with his hearing. Early in 1958 Roberts was called for in more serious circumstances. Churchill had spent the day on Aristotle Onassis’s yacht, “drank more alcohol than usual” and played chemin-de-fer “for high stakes” until late. The following day he was feverish and coughing, Roberts was called, and summoned Moran: Churchill was suffering from bronchial pneumonia, soon to be compounded by obstructive jaundice. Again, Roberts’s presence was of great help, both professionally and in terms of morale. In her note of April 1958 Clemmie explains to Mrs. Riley that “We are so grateful to Doctor Roberts; not only for his great professional skill, but for his kindness & understanding. He has been wonderful in getting my Husband through this troublesome and dangerous illness.”

Volumes I and II: "To Dr. Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, Christmas 1956"

vols. I and II: “To Dr. Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, Christmas 1956”

In Vol. III. Printed facsimile holograph compliments slip, "With all good wishes Winston S. Churchill"

In Vol. III. Printed facsimile holograph compliments slip, “With all good wishes Winston S. Churchill”

Volume IV inscribed "To David Myrddin Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, March 1958."

Vol. IV inscribed “To David Myrddin Roberts from Winston S. Churchill, March 1958.”

The copy of vol. III from 1957 has just a facsimile compliments slip inserted, but vol. IV, inscribed in March 1958, at the height of Churchill’s illness, has an atypical inscription including Roberts’s unusual middle name. Is there a hint here of an in-joke of some sort, of the camaraderie of doctor and patient, perhaps in the teeth of intimations of mortality? This was an intimacy that was to be renewed when Churchill fell in his hotel room in Monte Carlo in 1962, breaking his hip; “Howells [Churchill’s male nurse] telephoned at once to Dr. Roberts, who arranged for Churchill to be X-rayed with portable apparatus in the hotel. He was then taken to Monaco hospital, where an extensive plaster cast was applied” (Gilbert p. 1335). He was flown back to England on 29 June, and just three days later Clementine sent Roberts a telegram: “Thank you Dear Doctor Roberts for all your skill and care I am thankful that my husband is making good progress.” The second of the two telegrams is an extremely poignant one, dated 3 December 1964, it clearly relates to birthday greetings sent by Roberts for Churchill’s 90th: “Thank you so much all good wishes. Winston” The following month Churchill was dead. A splendid group of books and documents charting Churchill’s growing regard for Roberts, necessity and expediency shading to friendship and becoming a real intimacy, the reality of which is utterly confirmed by the warmth and sincerity of Clementine’s heartfelt notes of thanks. The Churchill’s clearly thought very highly of Dr. Roberts, but it is a relationship, which left few traces, because as Gilbert pointedly remarks, “Unlike Lord Moran, [Roberts] kept no diary.”

Woods A138 (a)
Cohen A267.1

$21,000

History English Speaking People vol1 with dust jacket

History English Speaking People vol1 with dust jacket

 

History English Speaking People vol11 with original dust jacket

History English Speaking People vol11 with original dust jacket

 

History English Speaking People vol111 with original dust jacket

History English Speaking People vol111 with original dust jacket

 

History English Speaking People vol1V with original dust jacket

History English Speaking People vol1V with original dust jacket

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