Tag: Dalton Newfield

Recorders of Churchill’s Canon: Colin R. Coote DSO

Recorders of Churchill’s Canon: Colin R. Coote DSO

A read­er asks: “Who pub­lished the first com­pi­la­tion of Win­ston Churchill’s wit and wis­dom, and when?” It was Col­in Coote, in 1947—a dear man devot­ed to the hero­ic mem­o­ry. My quo­ta­tions book Churchill by Him­self  is ded­i­cat­ed in part to him.

Colin Reith Coote

Sir Col­in (1893-1979) was a British jour­nal­ist and Lib­er­al politi­cian. For four­teen years he was edi­tor of the Dai­ly Tele­graph. There he came to know and admire Churchill. Short­ly after World War II, he thought to com­pile a book of Churchillisms, anno­tat­ed to val­i­date each entry. He wrote for per­mis­sion, and received a kind and rev­e­la­to­ry reply, which pro­vid­ed Churchill’s view of his lit­er­ary assigns:

28 Hyde Park Gate, 21 July 1946

My dear Col­in,

Thank you for your let­ter of July 15.…

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“Bring a friend if you have one”

“Bring a friend if you have one”

Alas the famous exchange between Churchill and George Bernard Shaw is  fic­tion.

Accord­ing to the usu­al­ly reli­able Kay Halle, in her quo­ta­tions book Irre­press­ible Churchill (Cleve­land: World, 1966, page 116), Shaw wrote to Churchill in 1924: “Am reserv­ing two tick­ets for you for my pre­miere. Come and bring a friend—if you have one.”

Churchill, Halle says, replied: “Impos­si­ble to be present for the first per­for­mance. Will attend the second—if there is one.” Finest Hour edi­tor Dal­ton New­field explained in the 1970s that the play in ques­tion was Shaw’s “St. Joan.”

But Allen Pack­wood, direc­tor of the Churchill Archives Cen­tre, has just come across an cor­re­spon­dence in a remote cor­ner of the Churchill Papers (CHUR 2/165/66,68) in which both Shaw and Churchill deny the exchange:

“A Mr.…

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