Item #263185 Autograph Letter, signed (“Winston S. Churchill”), to Major James B. Pond, with related 1 p. Typed Letter, signed, and notes. Winston S. Churchill.

Churchill Lectures in America

Autograph Letter, signed (“Winston S. Churchill”), to Major James B. Pond, with related 1 p. Typed Letter, signed, and notes.

[New York]: January 31, 1901.

Price: $20,000.00

About the item

3 pp. pen and ink on three sheets of 105, Mount Street, W. stationery, rectos only, with original envelope. 1 vols. Churchill Lectures in America. Creased from prior folding, small closed tears at folds, else fine. In a custom navy blue half morocco slipcase and chemise. Provenance: Pond estate.

Item #263185

On December 1, 1900, Churchill sailed for New York to begin a two month speaking tour of North America organized by Major James Pond. The young Churchill was fresh from the battlefield of four of Queen Victoria’s wars, where he served a dual role as officer and war correspondent. His lecture, “The War as I Saw It,” was a telling of his views on the South African War and his escape from captivity, all illustrated with magic lantern slides. Major James Burton Pond (1838-1903) was a lecture promoter who, in addition to Churchill, represented Samuel Clemens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Henry Stanley.
Churchill writes to Pond on the final day of the tour, two days before he set sail for England on the day of Queen Victoria’s funeral. Reading in part, “I am much obliged to you for the handsome volumes you have presented me with, and which I shall add to my small but growing library with great satisfaction … I am of course disappointed with the small profit [£1,600] my tour has resulted in, but at the same time I do not regret my visit to these shores for I have gained a great many new ideas and learned and have learned a good deal that will be of value later on. I am sorry we had a disagreement for although I am not quite convinced that you have managed the lecture tour well, I fear I was unreasonable. However, any annoyance I may have caused you was more than balanced by the wide circulation of your unfortunate 'interview'; so that I think we may … forget the business …”
Though this letter aims at something of a reconciliation, Churchill was deeply unhappy with Pond’s handling of the tour. “Pond's advance work had left Winston so angry that he threatened to call off the tour. Posters hailed him as 'the hero of five wars,' at least one too many. A reception committee of local dignitaries featured so many Dutch names that it might have been made up of Boers … Things were not off to a good start … Winston fought with Pond — he was nothing but a vulgar Yankee impresario, who was taking 30 percent of the fees and subcontracting some of the lectures to local agents for a fixed guarantee” (Morgan, Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, pp. 141-144).

[With:] CHURCHILL, Winston. 1p. Typed Letter, signed (“Winston Churchill”), to Major Pond. 105, Mount Street W. [London]: August 8, 1901. Light edgewear and creases from prior folds. Churchill writes to Pond 8 months after the debacle of his American tour to offer tickets to the House of Commons. “It is very uncertain during the last few days of the Session when I shall be in the House of Commons, but I can very easily get you tickets to hear the debates if you desire them …”

[And:] With a collection of papers and notes relating to the tour and the Churchill/Pond relationship, including:

6 page autograph draft of notes by Pond, describing several unpleasant anecdotes concerning Churchill’s lecture tour. March 5, 1901. “Buel [Clarence Clogh Buel, editor of The Century Magazine] asked me how I ever came to bring to this country that ass of a Churchill … ‘He is the biggest idiot you have brought here yet’ said Buel.” The note goes on to relate Richard Le Gallienne’s account of Churchill’s stay with bibliophile James Young of Minneapolis and Churchill’s imperious behavior towards his host.

Eastern Union telegram from Churchill to Pond in Stamphix, NY, announcing his decision to lecture in North America. London, July 30, 1900. “… Have decided come lecture in America during December January February Perhaps fortnight longer …” with address in pencil, “35a Great Cumberland Pl. London W.” Split vertically with old repair.

26 pp. typed carbon of notes by Pond concerning Churchill’s lecture tour and their acrimonious relationship, with a few notes in Pond’s hand. A fascinating and detailed account of the breakdown of the relationship between Churchill and Pond, with transcripts of letters and recalled conversations. The typescript focuses on Churchill’s refusal while in Canada to continue the lecture on the grounds that his percentage of the door is too small.