London: St. Cross Features Ltd., December 1963. Photograph. This original press photo of Sir Winston S. Churchill reading his own book was taken at his Hyde Park Gate home on 14 November 1963, a few weeks before his 89th birthday and less than a month after the suicide of his eldest daughter, Diana. This image measures 11.5 x 9.25 in (29.2 x 24.3 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of abrasion, with only light wear to the edges. This image features original, hand-applied retouching of Churchill’s coat, hands, and book. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “St. Cross Features Ltd.”, a purple received stamp of The Daily Telegraph from December 1963, handwritten printing notations, and a handwritten note reading “Photograph taken Nov. 14th at Hyde Park Gate."
The Churchills purchased 28 Hyde Park Gate in September 1945 and months later acquired the adjoining property as well. After his first premiership until his death, this brick house on a quiet street served as Churchill’s home and London retreat. Here he is photographed at home, reading. Though the title of the book he is reading is illegible, from the part of the dust jacket visible in the photo it is evident that the book is one of the Odhams Press editions of his books.
This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, including physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art.
This original press photograph was taken in the twilight of Churchill’s remarkable life and career. Winston S. Churchill was 80 years old when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955. For the last decade of his long life, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served. The day after Churchill died, on 25 January 1965, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen herself, other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005365