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World War II TYPED LETTER SIGNED by Winston Churchill as Prime Minister to Robert Graves

”You have certainly vindicated Macaulay...”


9 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches

Item Number: 16309


An extraordinary single-page letter on “PRIME MINISTER 10, Downing Street, Whitehall” embossed letterhead (9 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches) to the eminent man of letters, Robert Graves, dated March 15, 1943, overtyped Private:

My dear Graves [all in Churchill’s hand],

During my illness I read your book about Milton’s wife, which you so kindly sent me. It makes a wonderfully vivid picture. You have certainly vindicated Macaulay: ‘To make the past present, to bring the distant near, to place us in the society of a great man or on the eminence which overlooks the field of a mighty battle, to invest with the reality of human flesh and blood beings whom we are too much inclined to consider as allegory… these parts of the duty which properly belong to the historian have been appropriated by the historical novelist.’ No one does it so well or so agreeably as you.

Once more thanking you,
Believe me,
Yours sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill

In the wake of the Casablanca conference in January 1943, Churchill contracted pneumonia, remaining bedridden for much of the month of February. It is extremely rare, however, to find reference to any “illness” in Churchill’s correspondence of the period. The letter is rendered even more precious by the extended quotation that Churchill offers Graves from Churchill’s own favorite historian, Macaulay — a maxim that Churchill lived by in his own writing, particularly his MARLBOROUGH biography. The letter is in excellent condition, with a single file punch in the upper left corner, and is here preserved with the original postmarked envelope embossed PRIME MINISTER and overtyped “Private.

ROBERT RANKE GRAVES (1895-1985) was an English poet, translator and novelist best known for his popular historical novels, including I, CLAUDIUS; his translations of Latin and Ancient Greek texts; and his own personal memoirs. The novel that Churchill refers to here would have been THE STORY OF MARIE POWELL: WIFE TO MR. MILTON, published by Cassell in 1943.