Lot 218
  • 218

King George VI

3,000 - 4,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • King George VI
  • Typescript draft of his speech on the outbreak of World War II
  • ink on paper
addressing the British people on the great struggle ahead ("In this grave hour, perhaps the gravest in our history, I send to every household of my people this message, written with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself..."), 3 pages, foolscap carbon copy typescript, pencil note on the left margin ("Intermediate draft of the King's speech on the outbreak of war. I did the first draft, a good bit of which remains - but spoiled by translation into long sentences. Spoken stuff should be short winded H[arold] V[ale] R[hodes]"), dated 25 August 1939, dust staining to first page, nicks and tears, rust marks from old paperclip

Catalogue Note

"...Today the issue is clear. We are fighting, not only for our lives and liberties, not only for the survival of our country and of the British Commonwealth of Nations, although all these are in peril. But we are fighting also for a cause greater and nobler still, for the principles of freedom and justice, of good faith between nations, of the protection of the weak and resistance to aggression, in a word, for the common good of all mankind..."

AN EARLY DRAFT OF "THE KING'S SPEECH". George VI's words, spoken live on the radio on day that war was declared with Germany on 3 September 1939, were a vital boost for morale at a moment of national uncertainty and fear; they were also a personal triumph for George VI himself, who suffered from a severe stammer so found public speaking an enormous strain. The story of this speech and George VI's struggle with his stammer has become familiar to millions through the 2010 film The King's Speech. This intermediate draft of the speech was retained among the papers of Harold Vale Rhodes (1887-1970), a civil servant who played an important role in setting up the Ministry of Information in September 1939. It was drafted on 25 August 1939, two days after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed between Germany and the USSR, making war all but inevitable by paving the way for the invasion of Poland. Rhodes notes that this version of the speech was weakened by the length of its sentences, and although the sentiment and structure of this draft remain in the final version spoken nine days later, the speech spoken by the king is characterised by shorter and less grammatically complex sentences than this draft. A UNIQUE INSIGHT INTO ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND MOVING PUBLIC SPEECHES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.