Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Churchill vs. Churchill

A photograph of a man.When you hear the name Winston Churchill, you probably start thinking about cigars, England, World War II, and other details associated with the former Prime Minister.  But what about the American author of the same name?

The American Winston Churchill (1871-1947) was the author of several national best-sellers, most of which are now unknown despite their incredible popularity at the time.  At the turn of the 20th century, the other Winston Churchill was just starting out in his career as a writer and publishers sometimes confused the two authors as both published under the name "Winston Churchill."  To remedy this situation, the two Churchills agreed that the British Churchill would add an initial - "S" for Spencer - to distinguish himself from the American, who had no middle name.
A photograph of a young man in uniform, labeled "Winston S. Churchill" by hand.
Winston S. Churchill
The two also corresponded about more personal items.  In this December, 1900 letter from Winston S. Churchill accepting a dinner invitation from Winston Churchill, Churchill writes "I look forward to making your acquaintance with particular interest, for hitherto we have known each other only by name and repute."
A handwritten letter.
Letter, December 1900
Winston Churchill later used the proceeds from his novels to build himself a mansion, Harlakenden House, in Cornish, New Hampshire.  He became an active member of the Cornish Art Colony, whose members included Augustus Saint Gaudens and Maxfield Parrish and also successfully ran for state office several times.

Dartmouth holds Winston Churchill's papers and a guide to the collection is available.

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