London: September 1900. Booklet. This early and noteworthy Churchill signature dates from September 1900. It is found in an autograph booklet signed by 29 journalists attending The Annual Conference of the Institute of Journalists in London. In September 1900, Winston Churchill was just 25 years old, a soldier and war-correspondent who had yet to hold elected office. On 8 September 1900, Churchill wrote to his mother, Lady Randolph: "My dear Mamma, I am sorry not to be able to come until Wednesday morning, but I thought it better to attend the Annual Dinner of the Conference of the Institute of Journalists, at which I have been invited to reply for the war-correspondents. It is a good thing now and again to make a speech unconnected with politics and it is also a good thing, and opportunity not to be missed, to speak before the writers of Great Britain. I hope you will make my apologies to Lady Sassoon. I shall have four days at Alvie before I go south to Oldham, and I am looking forward very much to seeing something of you." (R. Churchill, Companion Volume I, Part 2, p.1197) We have found no record that preserves Churchill's remarks at the Annual Dinner, but his autograph here certainly proves that he did attend.
Churchill's time as a war correspondent proved fateful. Less than a month after he signed this booklet, on 1 October 1900, Churchill won his first seat in Parliament in the so-called "khaki election". Churchill had returned from the Boer War only in July 1900, spending the summer campaigning hard in Oldham and capitalizing on his capture and daring escape, and war dispatches from South Africa. It was a still very 19th Century Churchill who left this signature in this autograph book. After the election, Churchill would leave for his first North American lecture tour. While Churchill was abroad, Queen Victoria died, and the end of her 64-year reign also closed Churchill's Victorian career as a cavalry officer and war correspondent adventurer. Churchill returned to England in February 1901 to take his seat in Parliament and begin a 60-year career as one of the 20th Century's great statesmen.
The autograph booklet bearing the signatures measures 8 x 6.5 inches and is bound in grey paper wrappers with four ivory pages within that feature gilt lines, rules, and decorations. The signatures appear on the blank front cover, front cover verso, and first page recto. Inked at the head of the front cover in three lines is "The Institute of Journalists | Annual Conference in London | 1900". Churchill's full signature is the twelfth of thirteen on the front cover, in the firm and more youthfully rounded script characteristic of his early signatures. The ink is mildly age-toned but quite distinct. The booklet is in excellent condition, the covers clean, complete, and firmly attached and showing only trivial wear along the hinge, the ivory pages within modestly age-toned. The booklet is protected within a removable, archival mylar sleeve. Item #003067