London: P.A.-Reuter, October 1959. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Winston S. Churchill on 6 October 1959 campaigning for his last General Election. The gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is clean, crisp, and free of scratches with some light edge wear and minor cockling to the top edge. This press photo once belonged to the working archive of The Daily Telegraph. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “P.A.-Reuter”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated OCT 1959, and a typed caption titled, “THE OLD WARRIOR”. The caption reads, “All his life he’s been a fighter, now at 84, SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL shows by the set of his jaw and the tilt of his hat that he’s still ready to do battle. This characteristic study was made to-day (Tuesday) when he toured Woodford, Essex, on a General Election campaign. Sir Winston represented the constituency as a Conservative in the last Parliament and hopes to retain the seat in Thursday’s ballot. Oct 6th, 1959.”
The 1959 General Election was the sixteenth General Election in which Churchill had participated since his first parliamentary victory in 1900 during the reign of Queen Victoria. Four and a half years earlier Churchill had irrevocably relinquished the reins of power when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955 at the age of 80. Nonetheless, Churchill had not relinquished the last vestige of his long political life - his seat in Parliament. Churchill experienced a decisive victory in his 1959 re-election for Woodford; his vote tally was nearly two-and-a-half times that of his challenger.
Woodford proved both the longest and last served constituency of Churchill's epic political career. In the 1924 General Election, Churchill stood successfully for Epping. In 1945, Epping was subdivided and Churchill stood for the new (and politically more tenable) Woodford Division. Woodford would subsequently re-elect Churchill in 1955 and 1959 and he would serve Woodford as M.P. until October 1964.
During the final 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, culminating in his death on 24 January 1965 and his remarkably elaborate state funeral. In attendance were “six sovereigns, six presidents and sixteen prime ministers” as well as representatives of 112 nations. Queen Elizabeth II also attended – the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Before the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill’s coffin had passed through the countryside on a train. The Oxford don, Dr. A. L. Rowse, recorded “The Western sky filled with the lurid glow of winter sunset; the sun setting on the British Empire.”
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. Few of the 20th century’s statesmen lent themselves to the medium with such photogenic alacrity as Winston Churchill. Item #005380