A play by Winston Churchill’s mother finally received its world premiere at Churchill College on May 12th. “Between the Devil and Deep Sea” was written by Lady Randolph Churchill, the former Jennie Jerome, but never produced despite the fact that her first two plays had been put on in 1909 and 1913.
The manuscript is one of the curiosities in the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge University and has never before been performed or even academically referenced. Following a short introduction about Lady Randolph Churchill by Archives Centre Director Allen Packwood, the play was put on in a staged reading by ten students before an audience of more than 100 people including the Master of the College, International Churchill Society Chairman Laurence Geller, and Lady Randolph’s namesake great-great-granddaughter Jennie Churchill.
In his remarks, Packwood noted that “Lady Randolph moved in artistic and literary circles. She edited a transatlantic journal called The Anglo Saxon Review. She was an accomplished pianist, wrote her own articles, and published her own memoirs. What I had not appreciated until Holly Dayton started her research was that she also wrote and staged plays.
“Now, not everyone was as ignorant as me. We have some special guests in the audience who know all about Lady Randolph. David Lough is currently working on an edition of her correspondence with Winston, the follow up to his excellent book No More Champagne about Churchill’s finances.
“But the real star of tonight’s show is Holly Dayton. Holly is here from the United States studying for her MPhil in modern British history at Trinity Hall. Her dissertation is on the “Dramatic Works and Worlds of Lady Randolph Churchill. She has found “Between the Devil and the Deep Sea” and with the help of some talented students produces it for us this evening.”