Like with her copy of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (lot 27), Vivien wanted the author to inscribe her copy of Painting as a Pastime, the published version of two essays on painting Churchill had first written for Strand magazine. So, in May 1950, after he had come to see her in A Streetcar Named Desire, she wrote to him with her request: "You were very kind and said that if I sent you my book you would sign it for me, so here it is" (23 May 1950).
Clearly charmed by her request, Churchill dispatched an aide to seek out a special copy to replace her standard trade edition. Some two years after the publication, it was thought unlikely that one of the small number of special copies would still be available: "Mr. Churchill says have we got a nicely-bound one? I said I thought not, but I wonder if you would make sure..." (memo, 24 May 1950).
Evidently a spare copy was found, inscribed, and sent to Vivien in late June, along with her original copy. Vivien was of course delighted to receive such "a beautifully bound and wonderful book": "Would you kindly convey to Mr. Churchill my tremendous delight and pleasure at his charming thought [...] it was a lovely surprise and will of course be a great treasure" (letter to Cecily ('Chips') Gremmell, 28 June 1950).
Other such special copies of Churchill's book were given to the Duchess of Windsor (sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 February 1998) and artist George W. Leech.
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