London: Odhams Press Limited, Ernest Benn Limited, 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. Winston S. Churchill inscribed this first edition, first printing of his essay about his famous hobby in the month of publication to his London banker. In black ink in five lines on the front free endpaper recto Churchill wrote: "Inscribed for | T. E. R. Harris | by | Winston S. Churchill | 1948”. Laid in is a sheet of Churchill’s “28, Hyde Park Gate” stationery” with three lines of type reading “30th December, 1948 | With Mr. Churchill’s | Compliments.”
The recipient, Thomas Ernest Rorer Harris (1886-1954), managed the Pall Mall branch of Lloyds Bank during and following the Second World War, having risen from assistant manager in 1937. While Harris was Churchill’s banker for the better part of a decade, it was during the Second World War, in 1943, that he performed perhaps his most fortuitous service. Film director Alexander Korda bid for the film rights to Marlborough: His Life and Times – Winston’s four-volume history of his great ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. When tax advice was sought from Lloyds, it turned out that “Harris, the manager of the Pall Mall branch of Lloyds, had an industry contact of his own: the larger-than-life Italian film producer Filippo del Giudice.” Harris’s contact proved a significant boon; the Italian’s production company doubled the initial bid of their rival, netting Churchill an initial deposit of £30,000 – a sum three times Churchill’s annual salary as Prime Minister. (Lough, No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money, p.306) Churchill several times consulted Harris regarding investing his money – advice that “was not part of Lloyds’ stock-in-trade” and which caused Harris to consult a friend outside of Lloyds in order to provide the counsel requested by his illustrious client. (Lough, pp.324 & 340) Harris apparently left Lloyds in late 1948 – plausibly the occasion for which Churchill inscribed this presentation copy of Painting as a Pastime. In early 1949 Harris was appointed a member of the Board of Fairbairn Lawson Combe Barbour, Ltd., a manufacturer of textile machinery, but retired due to ill health in September 1952 and died in May 1954.
The content of Painting as a Pastime had been printed in The Strand Magazine as early as 1921, but not until nearly three decades after his first published words on the subject did Churchill consent to a book about his pastime and passion. While the first edition of Painting as a Pastime was an attractive enough little book, the coarse, pale green cloth binding proved highly susceptible to soiling and sunning and the thin maroon and white dust jacket incredibly vulnerable to wear.
Condition of this inscribed copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. The binding is square and tight, with minor wear to extremities, a touch of toning to the upper edges of the boards, and mild spotting and creasing to the upper front cover. The contents are respectably clean for the edition, moderate spotting primarily confined to the endpapers, prelims, and page edges. The tiny sticker of a London bookseller – notionally the same from whom this copy was first acquired for presentation – is affixed to the lower front pastedown. The first two leaves of the illustrations following the text remain attached at the upper right corner owing to an original binder’s trimming error. Churchill’s inscription remains clear and unfaded. The typed compliments slip on Churchill’s Hyde Park Gate stationery is clean apart from minor creasing and soiling to the top edge, likely from protruding at some time from the top of the text block. The dust jacket is nearly complete, unclipped with the original front flap price intact, and suffering only fractional loss to the spine ends. The maroon print and background is unfaded on both the covers and spine, despite wear to hinges and extremities and some soiling of the white rear panel. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Reference: Cohen A242.1.a, Woods/ICS A125(a), Langworth p.288. Item #006919