More than 30,000 flock to Morgan Library in New York for a glimpse at rarely seen Churchill memorabilia, including drafts of speeches.
THE DAILY MAIL, 5 August 2012—He was voted the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll.
But it seems Winston Churchill’s extraordinary appeal is as strong across the Atlantic as it is in the country he lead to victory against the Nazis in World War II.
An exhibition entitled Churchill: The Power of Words has opened in America to astonishing success.
Tens of thousands of people have been flocking to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York for a glimpse at rare memorabilia from the great orator and writer.
The displays, including Churchill’s hand-written notes and annotations on some of his famous speeches, delivered to lift the people’s spirits during the nation’s darkest hours, and other documents have been drawing unprecedented crowds.
More than 30,000 have so far passed by the rarely seen displays – a 50 per cent increase in visitor numbers, which has shocked even the curator with its success.
Declan Kiely of the Morgan Library told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It’s been thrilling to witness the unprecedented emotional engagement and visceral response of many visitors, some of whom emerge openly weeping after listening to Churchill’s speeches.’
Churchill’s reciprocated affinity with America was well documented.
He was the son of Jennie Jerome, an American socialite, he made four official transatlantic visits to America during his second term as prime minister in an attempt to maintain the special relationship.
He became the only living person awarded an honorary citizenship in 1963 by President Kennedy and is also the only non-American to have a warship named after him.
But his appeal with the latest generation of Americans seems to be just as strong.
A passage in one famous Churchill speech seems to have struck a particularly powerful chord with New Yorkers – one delivered on September 11, 1940, decrying the use of terror tactics against the population of a city.
On that day more than seven decades ago – two days into the Blitz – Churchill told the House of Commons that Adolf Hitler ‘hopes by killing large numbers of civilians, that he will terrorise and cow the people of this mighty imperial city… Little does he know the spirit of the British people.’
It is a speech which the exhibition’s curators have found holds particular resonance for New Yorkers in a post-9/11 world.
Visitors to the exhibition are also being given the rare chance to see around 65 documents and items – including his 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature and his secretary’s typewriter on which many speeches were drafted – usually kept out of public view in the vaults of the Churchill Archives in Cambridge.
They show how one of the great orators of all time was a perfectionist, adding copious annotations and amendments to drafts of speeches, tweaking and altering them until they struck the exact tone he was seeking.
The exhibition also includes an amusing letter from Churchill’s doctor Otto C Pickhardt, prescribing a drink of alcoholic spirits – at a time when America was in the midst of Prohibition – to aid his recovery after he was almost killed after being struck by a car on Fifth Avenue in 1931.
It reads: ‘This is to certify that the post-accident convalescence of Hon Winston S Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at mealtimes.
‘The Quantity is naturally indefinite but the minimum requirements would be 250 cubic centimeters.’
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