The wrong Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill - the novelist

The British prime minister, historian and wartime leader Winston Churchill became Winston S. Churchill to distinguish himself from the now forgotten and somewhat unsaleable U.S. novelist Winston Churchill (no relation.) His friendly and diplomatic letter on the subject  is a model of its kind and has been preserved.**

Pretty decent thing to do, but at the time (1899) the American novelist was well known and his books selling very well. To add to the confusion the novelist Winston was also a passable painter. Also our own Churchill wrote one novel, Savrola, in 1900. The American Churchill wrote many novels mostly with titles beginning with C - The Celebrity, The Crisis, The Crossing, Coniston etc., They occasional show up on eBay being sold as if by the great politician ( the American Churchill also dabbled in politics). Wikipedia says "...the two are still occasionally confused, mostly by sellers of second-hand books…" - slightly  dismissive, but possibly not untrue.  They are known to have met at least once and also to have corresponded; a signed letter from WSC to WC would be quite a valuable item!

A good WSC oil painting now goes for several hundred thousand pounds, the American Churchill (who appears to have been more than a Sunday painter) cannot be in this league. Must check an art price site…

Winston S Churchill painting at Reid's Hotel, Madeira

**Mr. Winston Churchill presents his compliments to Mr. Winston Churchill, and begs to draw his attention to a matter which concerns them both. He has learnt from the Press notices that Mr. Winston Churchill proposes to bring out another novel, entitled Richard Carvel, which is certain to have a considerable sale both in England and America. Mr. Winston Churchill is also the author of a novel now being published in serial form in Macmillan’s Magazine, and for which he anticipates some sale both in England and America. He also proposes to publish on the 1st of October another military chronicle on the Soudan War. He has no doubt that Mr. Winston Churchill will recognise from this letter — if indeed by no other means — that there is grave danger of his works being mistaken for those of Mr. Winston Churchill. He feels sure that Mr. Winston Churchill desires this as little as he does himself. In future to avoid mistakes as far as possible, Mr. Winston Churchill has decided to sign all published articles, stories, or other works, ‘Winston Spencer Churchill,’ and not ‘Winston Churchill’ as formerly. He trusts that this arrangement will commend itself to Mr. Winston Churchill, and he ventures to suggest, with a view to preventing further confusion which may arise out of this extraordinary coincidence, that both Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Winston Churchill should insert a short note in their respective publications explaining to the public which are the works of Mr. Winston Churchill and which those of Mr. Winston Churchill. The text of this note might form a subject for future discussion if Mr. Winston Churchill agrees with Mr. Winston Churchill’s proposition. He takes this occasion of complimenting Mr. Winston Churchill upon the style and success of his works, which are always brought to his notice whether in magazine or book form, and he trusts that Mr. Winston Churchill has derived equal pleasure from any work of his that may have attracted his attention. (June 1899)

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