Two TYPED LETTERS SIGNED by Winston Churchill

-A Testy Exchange about Journalistic Principle-

1950

2 sheets (7 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches)

Item Number: 3869

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Description

Two related letters to Walter Layton, Chairman of The News Chronicle, written by Churchill while he was out of office, during the General Election of 1950.
The first letter is a single page typed on Chartwell letterhead, dated 26 January, 1950:

My dear Layton,
I was surprised to see in the NEWS CHRONICLE … the enclosed picture of a cheering crowd published without any caption, and placed immediately over the result of the first ‘Gallup Election Poll,’ and the headline ‘Tory lead dramatically narrowed.’ Anyone would suppose that the picture was related to the headline … Enquiry however shows that the picture appeared in the GLASGOW HERALD in 1948 on the occasion of the announcement of the Paisley bye-election.
As this is certainly not in accordance with the usual principles of British journalism I bring it to your notice, and shall be glad to hear from you before I make the matter public.
Yours very sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill”

The letter is in very good condition, hole-punched at the upper right corner. It is preserved here with the aforementioned newspaper article (and photograph) and a carbon of Layton’s letter in reply (“I’m afraid you are reading far more into the picture … than was ever intended.”).

The response from Churchill, typed on 28 Hyde Park Gate letterhead, is dated 6 February, 1950:

My dear Layton,
Thank you very much for your letter of February 1. I must say I derived the impression from the picture that it was meant to suggest a crowd cheering the announcement. However, I am obliged to you for the explanation you have been good enough to give.
Yours very sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill

When Prime Minister Clement Atlee suddenly announced in January 1950 that a General Election would be held on February 23, Churchill abruptly returned to London from an extended winter holiday in Madeira Spain. He took an active part in preparation of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto and was clearly attuned to any perceived threats to the party’s chances.

WALTER THOMAS LAYTON (1884-1966) was Chairman of The News Chronicle from 1930-1950. A former editor of The Economist (1922-1938), he had been Churchill’s statistical officer at the Ministry of Munitions during World War I and ran the Joint War Production staff from 1942-43.