CHURCHILL IN HIBERNATION, WEEK 3

“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted,” Winston Churchill once announced to his secretary, Grace Hamblin.

We couldn’t agree more.

“Out of hibernation” is not remotely the same as “back to business” – not as it once was. We have re-opened our doors, insofar as we are processing orders received online (and thank you all very much for that). We long, however, to return to Chartwell Booksellers as Winston Churchill returned to Chartwell in the 1930s, again and again. Driving up from London, his secretary Grace Hamblin recalled, “as we got to the precinct, he’d cast everything aside. All the papers would go flying and the car rug on the floor; the dog would be pushed aside, the secretary pushed aside, everything pushed aside, ready to leap out. And he’d say, ‘Ah, Chartwell.’

. . . He was never happier than when he was there.”

The whole point of Chartwell Booksellers has always been the open opportunity to handle Winston Churchill’s books yourself. Our motto, you might say, was taken from Churchill’s essay, “Painting as a Pastime,” which he published in the Strand Magazine in 1921. “Painting as a Pastime” was not solely about painting (which was, of course, Churchill’s passion), but about savoring any pastime that engaged your mind and soothed your spirit, taking you away from the cares of the day-to-day, if only for a moment or two. Reading was at the top of this list, but the physicality of books themselves and the delicious sensation of handling them, remained, Churchill knew, unsurpassable.

“What shall I do with all my books?” Churchill asked in that essay, which we have paraphrased on our store bookmark for over 30 years now. “Read them. Handle them. Fondle them. Peer into them. Let them fall open where they will. Arrange them on your own plan. If they cannot be your friends, let them at any rate be your acquaintances.”

Health and safety, we wish you, as ever, along with the solace of a good book in your own two hands.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any reason at all.