-Signed First English Edition Presentation Copy in Dust Jacket-
First English Edition
Thornton Butterworth Ltd. [London]
Biblio: (Cohen A105.1.a) (Woods A43a)
8vo (335 pages, illustrated with 21 portrait photographs)
Hardcover [Blue cloth]
Item Number: 210675
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Great Contemporaries comprises twenty-one penetrating profiles of political and literary luminaries. An utter delight to read, beautifully written and brutally opinionated (Hitler comes off just a bit better than George Bernard Shaw), the ensuing “Revised” edition (and most future reprints) added four new profiles: Lord Fisher, Charles Stewart Parnell, Lord Baden-Powell and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This hadsome copy of the First English edition is inscribed and signed in ink, intimately:
“To Maxine from Winston, October 1937”(the month of publication).
The recipient is MAXINE ELLIOTT (1868-1940), the legendary American actress and British socialite, who remained one of Winston Churchill’s staunchest friends throughout his pre-World War II existence, after also being one of his mother’s dearest companions. Elliott owned two great houses in her life and both were among Churchill’s favorite retreats. The daughter of an Irish immigrant sea captain, Elliott had been a longstanding star on Broadway and in London before purchasing the country estate Hartsbourne Manor, near Bushy Heath, in 1909, following her divorce from actor-manager Nat Goodwin. Winston and Clementine Churchill weekended there regularly with an array of theatrical, political, and society luminaries. During World War I, Churchill, while in France, visited Elliott on a Belgian relief barge that she’d funded, where she fed and clothed 350,000 refugees in fifteen months. With the war’s end, he returned often to Hartsbourne until Elliott sold it in 1923 and retired to Paris. Seven years later, she built a staggeringly beautiful new residence, Le Château del’Horizon, on the French Riviera at Golfe-Juan near Cannes, and resumed her legendary entertaining. “Maxine’s Chateau” was Churchill’s preferred refuge during his Wilderness Years. He painted there a great deal and wrote innumerable articles and at least four books, dictating to his secretary Mrs. Violet Pearman, who often accompanied him. Clementine only occasionally did.
It is rare to find books signed by Churchill with just his surname. He did so for intimates only. This First Edition is in the rare and extremely handsome dust jacket, which is unclipped but lightly worn along the upper edges, front and rear, as well as at the spine head, with some faint scratches to the front face. The jacket has darkened with age but maintains its marvelous orange luster. The book is in very good condition, the binding is square and tight, the blue cloth a bit blotchily faded. The contents are fine, with light scattered foxing throughout, including on the signature page.
A profound association copy. Maxine Elliott truly was one of Winston Churchill’s great contemporaries.