Forty years ago today, April 11, 1983, Chartwell Booksellers opened its doors in the Park Avenue Plaza building, here in NYC. One month later, William Manchester published the first volume of his epic Churchill biography, THE LAST LIONWe are delighted to open our 40th READINGS AT CHARTWELL BOOKSELLERS video series, toasting the best 40 books about Winston Churchill published during our forty year existence, with actor JOHN LITHGOW reading THE LAST LION: Visions of Glory 1874-1932.

Watch it now.

WILLIAM MANCHESTER was a professor of history at Wesleyan University and the prize-winning author of  The Death of a President, an up-close account of the Kennedy assasination; American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964; and Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War; among others, when he arrived at Chartwell Booksellers in late-May 1983 to quietly sign copies of his latest work, the first book of a planned multi-volume  biography of Winston Churchill titled, THE LAST LION. He was diffident and spoke in a soft grumble. He said that he was too shy to read at Chartwell in front of an audience. He did return, however, three years later to again sign copies of his new second volume, THE LAST LION: Alone 1932-1940.

After that, the most frequently asked questions from our customers over the ensuing two decades was: ‘When will William Manchester complete THE LAST LION?’ We communicated regularly with his publisher, Little Brown, seeking an answer to this question, but after years of: ‘It will come,’ we finally were told that Mr. Manchester had suffered two strokes and would not be able to finish the job.

Then, in 2004, we learned that, shortly before Mr. Manchester’s death that year, he had  asked Paul Reid, a journalist who had interviewed him for The Palm Beach Press, to take Mr. Manchester’s notes and complete the writing of the final volume,  THE LAST LION: Defender of the Realm 1940-1965. This Mr. Reid did. After it was finally published in 2012, Mr. Reid joined us at the Yale Club (our store space was too small for the crowd) in a joint event with Boris Johnson (whose own book, The Churchill Factor, had just come out) on November 14, 2014.

The circle is now complete.

JOHN LITHGOW trained as an actor at Harvard and then the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright Scholarship. He won a Tony Award in 1973 for The Changing Room and another in 2002 for the musical Sweet Smell of Success, as well as nominations for Requiem for a Heavyweight (1985),  M. Butterfly (1988) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). He received Academy Award nominations for The World According to Garp (1982) and Terms of Endearment (1983). In 1996, he began his long run on the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun. He endeared himself to Churchill lovers in 2016 with his Emmy Award-winning portrayal of Winston Churchill on the first season of The Crown.

We thank Mr. Lithgow profoundly for launching our Fortieth Anniversary
40TH READINGS AT CHARTWELL BOOKSELLERS video series with this reading.