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ORIGINAL “On the Flank of the Army” MANUSCRIPT

-Winston Churchill’s original handwritten manuscript for one of his only works of fiction, a short story derived from his Boer War experiences, completed in 1901.-


By: Winston S. Churchill

Biblio: (Cohen C222b) (Woods C29)

Item Number: 13720


This is Winston Churchill’s original, complete, longhand draft for his short story “On the Flank of the Army,” which was published on December 18, 1902 in Youth’s Companion magazine in the United States, followed in March 1903 by publication in Great Britain in Windsor Magazine. The short story is known as the third and virtually last work of fiction that Churchill wrote. The manuscript has never before been seen in the public sphere (or offered for sale).

Apparently completed, if not entirely written, during Churchill’s first lecture tour of the United States, which commenced 1 December 1900 and ended 1 February 1901, the manuscript comprises 25 handwritten pages, all in Churchill’s hand, in ink, with numerous edits and emendations. The pages are laid into a paper enclosure that is clearly the cover for the notebook from whence these pages came, detached by the author as he wrote on them. There are also interleaved sheets and half sheets that Churchill used while writing the story (all pages are written on and contiguous), including one sheet of Churchill’s own 105 Mount Street personal stationery.

Each paragraph is numbered in pencil by Churchill with a running word count (his contract with Youth’s Companion stipulated that he would be paid for this story by the word, at a rate of $100 per 1000 words). The title itself is partly crossed out by Churchill (the word “Praetoria” is still legible) and reworked on the title page, as “On the Flank of the Army.”

The manuscript is inscribed on this title page (actually the notebook’s front cover): “To Martin [the last name also crossed out by Churchill and corrected] Cebel Esq. from WSC” and dated in Churchill’s hand: “27 Jan. 1901.” The manuscript is also signed again in full, “Winston S. Churchill,” on the final page, beneath word number 2665.

MARTIN CEBEL, according to the manuscript’s longtime owners, was a Brooklyn, New York-based steamship company owner who was in Buffalo setting up a steamship route for the forthcoming Pan-American Exposition at the time Churchill passed through on his way north to Canada, and back again. Young Churchill visited Canada on at least two occasions during his tour, while also visiting Albany, New York. Perhaps Churchill bestowed the manuscript as a gift in lieu of payment for some favor. It has been in the possession of Mr. Cebel’s descendants ever since, a family heirloom kept under lock and key until now. The manuscript is in remarkably good, near-fine, condition. The Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge, contain no draft of this story among Churchill’s papers.