Some Gifts for the Happy Couple
To Meghan and Harry from Winston Churchill
In the wake of “The Wedding” we find ourselves thinking about presents. Here, from two newly-acquired collections, a few exceptional gift suggestions for the young couple who would seem to have everything.
FOR PAMELA “WITH LOVE” Granted the marriage didn’t last. Yet, there is something incurably romantic about this copy of Randolph Churchill’s photobiography of his father, published in 1955, inscribed to his ex-wife, the mother of his child, Pamela Digby Churchill Harriman: “Pamela, with love from Randolph, 20 May 1955.” Laid-in, as well, is a card dated and signed: “Randolph S. Churchill 1888” by Randolph’s namesake, his father’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill. Clearly Pamela had a taste for family history along with adultery.
TO RUFUS WITH LOVE Every great marriage deserves a great pet photo. Here is one of the best, Winston Churchill with his beloved Rufus II (Rufus I was sadly run over by a passing car in 1947) pictured together grinning through the window of their limousine on their way from No.10 to Chartwell on August 10, 1953. The photo is signed, “Winston S. Churchill” in ink across the car roof interior.
JENNIE CHURCHILL’S COPY OF “LIBER AMORIS” From the Library of Winston Churchill’s mother, a First Edition copy of William Hazlitt’s bizarre, self-justifying apologia for his infatuation with his landlord’s daughter (whom he subsequently married). The delicate bookplate on the front pastedown reads: “Jennie Spencer Churchill,” surrounded by cherubs with their lyre. The vintage full-crimson leather binding is still quite lovely.
Brooklyn-born Jennie Jerome married Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, the third (non-inheriting) son of the Duke of Marlborough, in April 1874. Her relationship to her son Winston was famously “affectionate but distant.” Lord Randolph died in 1896. In July 1900 Lady Randolph married George Frederick Myddelton Cornwallis-West (twenty years her junior). They were divorced in 1918. In June 1918 she married Montagu Phippen Porch (twenty-five years her junior), a colonial official serving in Nigeria. The difference in their ages prompted her famous remark, “He has a future and I have a past, so we should be all right.”
This book was acquired from the estate of Jennie’s younger son, Jack Churchill.