World War II TYPED NOTE SIGNED by Winston Churchill on the eve of Czechoslovakia's Occupation
["Uncertainties...overhang our future."]
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(4 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches
Churchill at Chartwell
An paradigmatic note written as the darkening Nazi threat that Churchill had long predicted was becoming reality. Written on Chartwell notepaper (4 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches), dated "6th March, 1939," to Mr. Harold R. Peat:"I am afraid I cannot contemplate a tour at the present time. The uncertainties which prevented me last year, still overhang our future."Just three days earlier, Churchill's constituency had, for the second time, attempted to remove him as their representative in Parliament. His opposition to the Munich Agreement and to the policies of Neville Chamberlain, his party's Prime Minister, seemed to many almost treasonous. One week later, Churchill answered his critics in a speech: "I do not withdraw a single word," he said. "I read it again only this afternoon [his fierce remarks during Parliament's Munich debate] and was astonished to find how terribly true it had all come." Four days later, on March 14, German troops crossed the border into Czechoslovakia.Harold R. Peat, a former-World War I war hero, ran the Peat Lecture Bureau at 2 West 45th Street in New York City. "His Bureau," wrote The New Yorker in a 1942 Talk of the Town piece, "is one of the places people go when they want to engage a talented or famous person to speak at an Annual Luncheon or whatnot. Many people who can afford Thomas Mann, Andre Maurois, Franz Werfel, Ilka Chase, Lillian Hellman, Hermann Rauschning, Alice Longworth, or H.G. Wells realize that the Peat office can get them for you." It was, in fact, H.G. Wells who introduced Churchill to Peat. Six months after writing this letter, Winston Churchill was grudgingly invited by Chamberlain back into his government as First Lord of the Admiralty. The letter is in very good condition, with a paperclip shadow at the upper left corner and a small date of receipt stamp, "Mar. 16, 1939."
Bibliographic numbers (in parentheses) are from Frederick Woods' original Churchill bibliography (Woods), as emended by Richard Langworth in his Connoisseur's Guide; and from the new, greatly expanded Churchill bibliography by Ronald Cohen (Cohen).