“Time ends all things,” Winston Churchill once reflected. Well, we have reached the end of our year-long pandemic peregrination through Winston Churchill’s book-length works. We have reached THE UNWRITTEN ALLIANCE.
Winston Churchill’s book-writing career came to an end with the publication of The Unwritten Alliance in 1961, the fifth and final collection of his postwar speeches, covering 1953-1959. Predominantly, these were speeches Churchill delivered as Prime Minister, for he spoke sparingly in public after retiring as PM in 1955. The end of Churchill’s political career would follow in 1964 with his decision not to run again for a seat in Parliament due to failing health.

Worldwide, Churchill, by 1961, was increasingly viewed as a monument; a figure of legend. Yet, his publishing marketability in the U.S. had diminished to the point that The Unwritten Alliance was never released here, even though the title, taken from a speech Churchill had made at the English-Speaking Union, was a  tribute to the “Special Relationship” between the U.S and Britain; “a grand alliance,” Churchill pointed out, “far closer in fact than many which exist in writing.”

A sunset quality suffuses some of the seventy speeches in The Unwritten Alliance, as Churchill quite literally closes the book. His very last speech here was spoken at the unveiling of a statue of himself at Woodford, his Parliamentary constituency of thirty-five years, on October 31, 1959. “It is not east to speak of a work of art portraying oneself,” he observed. “Thirty-five years. That is more than half my adult life. It is certainly a period of history in which much has been built up and much torn down in this troubled world.” And yet, Churchill concluded, “Let us not lose heart. Our future is one of high hope. I thank you all for the reception you have accorded me.”

We thank you all for the reception you have accorded us, reading along throughout this wild year — first our “Churchill in Hibernation,” and then our “Churchill Out of Hibernation emails. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the beginning of the end or even the end of the beginning. Next week, we embark on a whole new beginning (and a whole new email series), “Churchill Back in Business,”  as we reopen Chartwell Booksellers to customers beginning Tuesday, June 1.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned.