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Woods Corner – Works in Progress

Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 49

UNPUBLISHED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: The Companion Volumes to the Official Biography have been rescued, and the whole o.b. is to be reprinted, but arrangements are still being completed; and its many fans will be pleased that Manchester’s Last Lion, vol. 3, is being written by CC member


The Companion Volumes, 1942-1965

The first three volumes of Churchill War Papers, aka the Companion Volumes to the official biography, appeared in 1993, 1995 and 2000. The previous Companion Volumes for vol. 5 of the o.b. appeared in 1979, 1981 and 1982. Seven more volumes are planned in all: one each year for 1942-1945; one for the opposition period (1945-51); one for the second Premiership (1951-55); and one for the last years (1955-65).

W. W. Norton abandoned the War Papers as U.S. publisher after 2000, citing the increasing size of the books and the gaps between their appearance. Cassell remained willing to be “UK publisher” but their interest was peripheral. They “published” only 300 or so copies of each volume, supplied by Norton with the Cassell imprint, charged double Norton’s price, and then complained about low sales. Subsequently an important educational institution offered to publish the remaining seven Companion Volumes (1942-1965) and to republish the entire official biography, including the eight biographic and sixteen previous document volumes now out of print, most notably the rare companions to vol. 5. Arrangements are being completed but there is no schedule established.

William Manchester’s Defender of the Realm

Paul Reid, the author assigned to finish William Manchester’s Churchill trilogy, The Last Lion, informed us in January of progress of the final volume, Defender of the Realm 1940-1965: “I just finished Part One (1940). I expect to have Part Two (1941) completed by June, parts three to five by mid-2006. Publication is set for sometime in 2007.

“Bill’s notes and interviews run to thousands of pages, enough to fuel at least three more volumes. My job, therefore, is to pace this final volume. About half of it will cover 1940 and 1941, about forty percent the remainder of the war, and about 10-15 percent the postwar years. Bill saw the postwar years (or at least the last decade) as a long ‘afterward.’ Having been guided by Bill the last year of his life, and having in hand the pages he wrote (through the Fall of France) I think I have a good feeling for the pace he set and where he was going. The pages he finished are, as was usual with Manchester, marvelous, full of suspense and foreshadowing, a real tale beautifully told.

“Among many things he made clear to me was his desire that this book be an enjoyable read for younger people, under forty years of age, who did not grow up with stories of the war percolating through their household. There is a mighty big audience of readers out there who are in early middle age and who were not yet born when John Kennedy died. Bill wanted to give them—and all his readers, of any age—a narrative that just rolls along, strong and deep and wide.”

We certainly feel confident, from Paul’s obvious enthusiasm for the job and understanding of the author, that The Last Lion is in good hands, and we with him Godspeed. —RML

American Titles

Most bibliophiles know that certain Churchill works had different titles in America, usually because the author was rather less known in the USA than England, but which in the opinion of many were more effective: My Early Life became A Roving Commission (the English subtitle), and Thoughts and Adventures became Amid These Storms—the latter, at least, at Churchill’s suggestion, when Charles Scribner asked for an alternative.

James Lancaster in France sends us this note on another American title substitution, While England Slept. The reference is Bruce Lockhart’s Your England (London: Putnam, 1955, 201):

“My American publishers, Messrs G. P. Putnam’s Sons, told me an excellent story which was later confirmed by Lady Churchill. In 1938 Mr Churchill had sold to Putnam’s in New York his book of speeches published by Harrap, entitled Arms and the Covenant. As in this period the United States had little interest in arms and none at all in the League of Nations, the directors of Putnam’s cabled to Mr Churchill begging him to suggest a new title.

“Mr. Churchill put forward The Years of the Locust, but the cable arrived in the corrupt form of The Years of the Lotus. Putnam’s directors were baffled. They did not wish to trouble Mr. Churchill again. So they sat up all night wracking their brains for an idea. The Years of the Lotus meant nothing to Americans. ‘Get a dictionary,’ said the boss at last. He turned up ‘lotus: plant inducing luxurious dreaminess.’ ‘Gee,’ he said, ‘I’ve got it: While England Slept.’”

Mr. Lancaster writes: “In my opinion, Putnam’s in New York came up with a much better title than Harrap’s in London. While England Slept says it all in three simple words, whereas most readers knew little or nothing about the Covenant of the League of Nations.”

Shortly afterward, writing of the appeasement period, John F. Kennedy entitled his book Why England Slept, noting that his title was suggested by Churchill’s. (JFK’s views were quite different from his father’s, though the elder Kennedy made his son’s book a best-seller by the simple expedient of buying thousands of copies.)

Putnam’s in New York would publish only one more book by Churchill, but its title too was changed, whether by the publishers, or editor Randolph Churchill, or WSC himself we are not sure. But Into Battle, the first volume of Churchill’s war speeches, became Blood, Sweat and Tears in the United States, and in Canada where it was published by McClelland & Stewart. It became Churchill’s best selling book to date, until publication of his war memoirs starting in 1948.

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