CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 9

MR. BRODRICK’S ARMY is the holy grail of Churchill book collecting; the rarest and most precious volume in the Churchill canon.

In our ongoing stroll through our shelves, we visit it next… if we can only find one.

Winston Churchill was still a member of the Conservative Party — 28-years old and a year removed from crossing the aisle to join the Liberal Party — when he quietly published a 104-page softcover collection of six of his Parliamentary speeches delivered in opposition to an expansion of Britain’s peacetime army proposed by the Conservative Secretary of State for War, St John Brodrick.

The speeches and the dispute itself constitute a mere footnote in history, though there is modest irony in Churchill, the fervent future advocate of rearming against Hitler, taking such a contrarian stand against his own party in 1903.

Mr. Brodrick’s Army was more a hefty pamphlet, with its bright red soft covers, than a paperback, in an age well before paperbacks. It was published by Arthur L. Humphreys, General Manager of Hatchards, the venerable London bookshop that still stands at number 187 Piccadilly. Hatchards had a long history even then as a publisher of pamphlets, both political and otherwise. The print run for Mr. Brodrick’s Army is unknown. Priced at 1-Shilling, most copies, conceivably, were given away by the young Churchill as an act of self-promotion. What is certain is that the acidic paper stock did not age well.

Fewer than 20 surviving copies are accounted for today. In our 37 years, we have sold only three. The book remains the stuff of collectors’ dreams.

 We wish you continued safety, health and  sweet collectors’ dreams.