Churchill distinguished himself as a soldier, author and statesman, rising to the height of fame as England’s prime minister during World War II. From 1945, when the Labor party regained power, until 1951, when a Conservative victory again made him prime minister, Churchill continued to write and champion the cause of British security and world peace. It was during these years that he began his six-volume history, The Second World War published by Cassell beginning in 1948. Our letter discusses Volume I, The Gathering Storm, and Volume II, Their Finest Hour.
Churchill painting the city walls in Marrakesh, Morocco
In January 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt and members of the allied command secretly met in Morocco for the now-famous Casablanca Conference. On the last day, the press was invited to hear their statement which demanded the unconditional surrender of the Axis forces. Before Roosevelt’s departure, Churchill suggested that he join him in nearby Marrakech, a favorite destination of his since the 1930s, which he called the Paris of the Sahara. “’You cannot come all the way to North Africa without seeing Marrakesh,’ Churchill told a skeptical Roosevelt, who wanted to return immediately to the United States to concentrate on running the war effort. ‘Let us spend two days there,’ Churchill persisted. ‘I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.’ And so, on January 23 1943, the two wartime leaders left Casablanca for the five-hour drive to Marrakesh… At Churchill’s insistence, two of his staff made a chair of their arms to carry the wheelchair-bound Roosevelt up the winding stairs to the roof of the tower to watch the spectacle. As Celia Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter, has recounted in her book Travels with Winston Churchill, Roosevelt was clearly taken by the moment. Reclining on a divan, Roosevelt remarked to Churchill: ‘I feel like a sultan: you may kiss my hand, my dear.’ In his diary, Churchill’s doctor recorded: ‘We stood gazing at the purple hills, where the light was changing every minute.’ Churchill himself murmured: ‘It’s the most lovely spot in the world.’ Refreshed, Roosevelt left Marrakesh the following morning, while Churchill opted to stay one day longer to do some painting. During the afternoon he painted a view of the Atlas Mountains, which was the only picture he painted during the war,” (“Marrakesh: Where Churchill and Roosevelt Played Hookey,” The Telegraph, Coughlin). Our letter mentions his upcoming return to the Hotel Mamounia in Marrakesh, courtesy of Time-Life, during the winter of 1947 where he, again, painted the Moroccan sunset from its balcony.
Despite contemplating a career in the antiquarian book world, Flower followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the venerable publishing firm of Cassell’s in 1930. “Almost the last thing that Flower did before joining the Army in 1940 was to prepare the first volume of Churchill’s wartime speeches,” (“Obituary: Desmond Flower,” The Independent, March 31, 1997). After the war, Flower returned to rebuild the war-torn Cassell’s. “In this, Churchill’s six-volume history The Second World War (1948-54) was a gigantic asset,” (ibid.). For The Second World War Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, after which he collaborated with Cassell’s on the publication of subsequent works.
Our letter mentions Churchill’s secretary Edith Nina “Jo” Sturdee (later Countess of Onslow, 1922-2006). Folded with nominal creasing. There is a file hole in the upper left corner and a small pencil notation in the upper right. In very fine condition.