Friday, June 3, 2016

The Special Relationship: Churchill and Roosevelt

Roosevelt to Churchill, 20 July 1901The phrase, Special Relationship has come to describe the “exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States.” The phrase first earned its political associations in 1946 when Winston S. Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, referred to Britain’s relationship with the United States during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency as “special.” Since then the phrase has been used to describe other relationships between British and American political figures such as Heath and Nixon, Thatcher and Reagan, and Blair and Clinton.

However, there is a lesser-known yet equally special Churchill-Roosevelt duo that established their personal and political relationship decades before their contemporaries were ever acquainted.

Winston Churchill, the American novelist and Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, first began their relationship around the turn of the twentieth century during a meeting of the Vermont Fish and Game League in September of 1901. Churchill had been invited to address the meeting and Roosevelt attended as the guest of honor.

Churchill to Roosevelt, 24 August 1906Roosevelt to Churchill, 1 January 1904
By 1901 Churchill was already considered a best-selling novelist. He had published two historical novels prior to the release of The Crisis that launched him into literary infamy. The Crisis became the best-selling novel of 1901 and a fan favorite of Theodore Roosevelt. Even before the two men met on Isle La Motte on Lake Champlain, Roosevelt had reached out to Churchill in a note praising The Crisis. Churchill, who supported Roosevelt’s political platform and quietly rallied behind his presidential aspirations, was equally a fan of Roosevelt.

Perhaps it was their similar political beliefs, fondness for the outdoors or respect for one another’s craft that forged the early stages of their relationship. For whichever reason the best-selling novelist and the young politician developed a lasting friendship that survived both of their evolving careers and political ambitions long after their first meeting at Isle La Motte. Roosevelt went on to become President of the United States after McKinley’s death and secured a full term when he won the 1904 election. Churchill also entered the political world during the Progressive Era and served in the New Hampshire state legislature in 1903 and 1905 but was unsuccessful in his run for governor of New Hampshire.

Roosevelt to Churchill, 20 September 1906
In the papers of Winston Churchill we have several letters between Churchill and Roosevelt, discussing visits to the White House, congratulatory messages on literary success and new additions of family members as well as informing on political situations. In a letter dated September 20, 1906, Roosevelt writes to Churchill asking for “I want you to come alone to lunch with me or else give me a couple of hours when I can go over at length the whole political situation with you.”

Roosevelt to Churchill, 18 August 1906
If you would like to learn more about their Special Relationship you can request Robert W. Schneider biography of Churchill, Novelist of a Generation, by asking for Rare PS1298.S3. ML-16 will get you Churchill's papers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Phoebe's Traveling Head

Phoebe the figure and the text

Phoebe, the cottage maid follows its eponymous title character through her daily routines. It could be any other children's book from 1811. But the second half of the title -- Exemplified in A SERIES OF RURAL FIGURES -- makes Phoebe unforgettable.

Each chapter of Phoebe comes with a "figure" that illustrates what Phoebe does in that chapter. Unlike today's paper dolls, only Phoebe's head is removable. After taking Phoebe's head from one figure, you can gently push it into a paper pocket in the next figure. She reads in her bower, goes to market to sell things (and gets extra money just because she's beautiful...), and makes lace.

She also sings some songs that were clearly written by an adult: "How pleasant my labor, to wander away, / The treasures of Nature to gain; to support a poor mother, to toil thro' the day, / And a poor little sister to maintain. / How sweet is the task, for the parent we love ..."

Phoebe's floating headWe wish we had some of the other titles advertised on the back: HUBERT, The COTTAGE BOY (the sequel to Phoebe); LUCINDA the ORPHAN, or the COSTUMES; The History of LITTLE ELLEN, Or the Naughty Girl Reclaimed; and especially Frank Feignwell's Attempts to Amuse his Friends (which you just know will go poorly for Frank).

Our copy of Phoebe was clearly well-loved over the past two hundred years -- her face is a bit smudged, and there are some doodles in the text. To play with Phoebe, ask for Rare Book PR3991.A1 P4 1812.