Three typescript articles:

"Are We Alone in the Universe?", "The River of Life", "Mystery of the Body". Each covering page headed: "World copyright by Cooperation". Together with galley proofs for each article.

[late 1930s] Stock Code: 121591
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Churchill ponders the mysteries of life

There has been considerable recent interest in Churchill's essay "Are We Alone in the Universe?" In an article for Nature, astrophysicist Mario Livio describes his visit to the US National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, when "director Timothy Riley thrust a typewritten essay by Churchill into my hands. In the 11-page article, 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' Churchill muses presciently about the search for extraterrestrial life. He penned the first draft, perhaps for London's News of the World Sunday newspaper, in 1939 when Europe was on the brink of war. He revised it lightly in the late 1950s while staying in the south of France at the villa of his publisher, Emery Reves. For example, he changed the title from 'Are We Alone in Space?' to 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' to reflect changes in scientific understanding and terminology. Wendy Reves, the publisher's wife, passed the manuscript to the US National Churchill Museum archives in the 1980s. Riley, who became director of the museum in May 2016, has just rediscovered it. To the best of Riley's knowledge, the essay remained in the Reves's private collection and has never been published or subjected to scientific or academic scrutiny. Imagine my thrill that I may be the first scientist to examine this essay" ("Winston Churchill's essay on alien life found", Nature, vol. 542, issue 7641, 15 Feb. 2017).

Livio's piece aroused international media interest in Churchill's "unpublished" article, although Professor Christopher Bell of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, pointed out that an earlier, shorter version of "Are We Alone in the Universe?" had appeared in the Sunday Dispatch, a Beaverbrook weekly, on 8 March 1942 under the sensational headline "Are There Men in the Moon?" The essay appears in Cohen's bibliography (C662), where he comments: "Written before the war but published here i.e. the Sunday Dispatch for the first time. Subsequently published in Collected Essays, Vol. IV, pp. 493-8".

Material relating to these articles in the Churchill Archive at Cambridge (CHAR 8/644) is headed "Literary: News of the World articles by WSC" and dated 1939. This group of pieces "includes proofs for three unpublished articles (indicated by a 1962 note): 'The Mysteries of the Body' on cells, organs, blood, the digestive system, the liver, the nervous system and the brain, the senses, reproduction, and genetics; 'Are We Alone in Space?' on the necessary conditions for life to develop outside the Earth; 'The River of Life' on the origin of life on Earth up till human life (with a supplement from the Illustrated London News showing human evolution)".

"Mystery of the Body" is in large measure the same essay as that published under the title "What Do You Know About Yourself?" (Cohen 666, also written before the war, published in the Sunday Dispatch 5 April 1942 and reprinted in Collected Essays, vol. IV, pp. 499-503). "The River of Life" may be the article published as "Life Under the Microscope" (Cohen C669, Sunday Dispatch 19 April 1942), but this is not reprinted in the Collected Essays so we have been unable to make a comparison.

These ephemeral pieces attest to Churchill's prodigious output during the 1930s, when he lived by his writing and "many subjects were grist to his tireless mill. Apart from anything else, he had no Cabinet salary after 1929 and it was largely his journalism that enabled him to maintain his comfortable standard of living. He therefore accepted virtually every opportunity for publication with alacrity and professionalism. Articles may have been delivered by taxi at the last possible moment, but he never missed a copy date, even at the height of his political worries" (Frederick Woods, Artillery of Words: The Writings of Sir Winston Churchill, 1992, p. 11). Churchill material of this nature rarely comes onto the market and these may well be the only copies of the galley proofs outside of the Churchill Archive.

Provenance: from the collection of Churchill's literary agent Emery Reves (1904-1981). Reves had been instrumental in promoting Churchill's pre-War international profile by the world-wide syndication of many of his prophetic articles during the late 1930s. Churchill biographer Jonathan Rose gives the background to their early association: at this time "Churchill was trying to disseminate his dissenting views as widely as possible, with the help of an indispensable agent. Emery Reves was a Hungarian Jew who in 1930 launched the Cooperation Press Service. Based in Berlin, he distributed articles by prominent politicians to publications outside their home countries. Within two years he had about a hundred political writers in his stable publishing them in 400 newspapers in 70 nations. 'Naturally the organization was rather profitable,' he recalled On 1 April 1933 Nazi stormtroopers attacked Jewish businesses throughout Germany, and Reves took the night train to Paris, where he opened a new office on the Champs-Eylsees. Reves was keen to recruit Churchill, and Austen Chamberlain set up a meeting on 25 February 1937 in Churchill's London flat at Morpeth Mansions. Having just emerged from his bath, Churchill was as skeptical as he was naked, so Reves handed him a fat folder of Austen's clippings. Promptly telephoning Lord Beaverbrook's office, Churchill was dismayed to learn that 'Chamberlain's articles are much more widely distributed than mine.' In June Churchill and Reves signed a contract, and the latter became the conduit for distributing Churchill's jeremiads against Hitler to Europe, the British Empire and the United States. A senior Foreign Office official urged Reves to stop - for in fact he was enabling Churchill to run around Neville Chamberlain's media blockade, with some assistance from the latter's half-brother. 'He was really in the political doghouse,' Reves remembered. 'Through my service he got on the front pages of the newspapers in twenty-five languages, with up to a fifteen, even twenty million circulation'" (The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor, Yale 2015, pp. 257-58). Their association blossomed again after the War when Reves negotiated the sale of the US rights for The Second World War, and purchased the international rights himself, selling serialization to 27 newspapers across the globe and securing book rights in 11 European countries. Churchill said of this feat, "I am sure that no one could have done it except Reves, who buzzed around the world for nearly a year making contracts." They subsequently worked closely together on the book itself, Reves having what Martin Gilbert has described as "considerable editorial input".

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Quarto. "Alone": 11pp.; galleys: 3 pp.; "River": 15 pp.; galleys: 4 pp.; "Mystery": 14 pp.; galleys: 4pp. Each typescript held with a paper clip at head; galleys with single punch hole at top left and green treasury tags.


Holograph corrections and emendations (not in Churchill's hand) to "Alone" and "Mystery". In excellent condition.


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