Winston Churchill, the iconic politican known as the British Bulldog for his statemanship during World War II, was not the type of man to beg... unless he was in love. In 1904, Churchill was one of Britain's most eligible bachelors. Born into the aristocratic Marlborough family, he had already seen military service in Cuba, India, Afghanistan and the Sudan where he rode in the last ever British calvary charge. He was drawn to adventure and his 1899 escape from the Boers in South Africa had turned him into a national hero. By the turn of the century, he had moved into politics and was elected Member of Parliament for Oldham. He had also written four books.
His personal life was not dull either as AbeBooks' recent sale of a £9,400 autograph letter written in 1904 illustrates. He had asked a beautiful society heiress called Muriel Wilson to marry him and she turned down the man who would become the greatest statesman of the 20th century. It sounds like Churchill talked too much about politics. Hurt by the rejection, Churchill penned a letter to Wilson expressing his misery:
This is what I wanted to say on the way back. You are not certain in your own mind. Don't slam the door. I can wait - perhaps I shall improve with waiting. Why shouldn't you care about me someday? I have great faith in my instinct which was so very strong. Time & circumstances will work for me. Meanwhile I won't pester you. Let me see you again before Monday. I will try to talk trivialities. At present I feel quite sick - and I will write and tell you when I have rearranged my mind and can see you without alluding to the only thing that is of the slightest consequence. Of course if you don't care about me at all, you are quite right. But it is a sad pity and a scattering of treasure. I love you because you are good & beautiful, & you may be perfectly certain that I am not going to change or try to change. On the contrary, the more I am opposed the more strength I shall feel - for I am not going to be thrust back into my grey world of politics without a struggle. But for that 1st reason you may see me safely - when I have got hold of myself again - for I won't be such a fool as to bore you. I shall tell Surrey - it would not be honourable in me not to - being as we are such good friends - what I feel and intend.
Yours always - Winston S.C.
Churchill would go on to marry Clementine Ogilvy Hozier in 1908. He is believed to have also proposed unsuccessfully to the actress Ethel Barrymore.
You'll find Churchill's letter in the number four spot, tucked between Chaucer and A.A. Milne.
1. Original drawing of Sam I Am carrying Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss - £13,456
A rare original drawing of Seuss' iconic character Sam I Am in black felt tip on wove paper, signed by Dr. Seuss.
2. Joan Miró Lithographs -
A limited edition collection of lithographs by surrealist Spanish painter Joan Miró (1893-1983). The lithographs, reproductions of original art, date back to 1948-50.
3. Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer - £10,667
Published in 1927 by Golden Cockerel Press, this edition is one of 219 numbered copies printed on Kelmscott hand-made paper. The folio features five full-page illustrations, four tail-pieces, and 60 decorative borders from wood-engravings by Eric Gill. In fact, the whimsical illustrated borders were the most widely discussed feature of the volume; the public was divided about them, as some thought them too naughty, but Gill and press owner Robert Gibbings were convinced of their value and the borders were used again with great success in their printing of The Canterbury Tales.
4. An Autographed Letter Where a Desperate Winston Churchill Responds After His Marriage Proposal is Rejected
A distraught Winston Churchill asks society beauty Muriel Wilson to marry him in 1904. Within hours after she rejected his proposal, he makes a desperate appeal to her: "I can wait - perhaps I shall improve with waiting. Why shouldn't you care about me someday?" Churchill, at the time a 29-year-old Member of Parliament, continued to write to Wilson but married Clementine Hozier in 1908. It's said that Wilson didn't approve of a career in politics.
5. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne - £8,943
The story of everyone's favourite bear, signed by A.A. Milne on an official book plate stating Milne's home address. The opposite page is inscribed by the book's illustrator Ernest H. Shepard. A fine first edition from 1926.
6. Lorsch Gospels Facsimile Edition - £8,094
Published in 2000, this is an exact replication of the original work that dates back to 778-820. The gospel is named after Lorsch Abbey in Germany, where it presumably originated. Entirely written with gold ink, each page shows colourful frames which are unsurpassed in form and style.
7=. Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman - £7,169
A signed first edition from 1962 of this highly influential economics book where Friedman writes that economic freedom leads to political freedom. He argues against government intervention in business, especially in terms of state licensing of professions. Friedman's theories are still regularly referenced today by libertarian politicians.
7=. Collection of Theodore Roosevelt Photographs from Underwood & Underwood - £7,169
A collection of over 190 photographs, many unpublished, from Underwood & Underwood who provided newspapers with photos in the 1900s. Most are from Roosevelt's presidency, but a few are from his 1898 Rough Rider days at Montauk Point, Long Island. Locations across the United States are represented, with dates from 1898 to 1909.
8. Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made By Magnifying Glasses by Robert Hooke - £6,791
Published in 1665, Micrographia is said to be the first book to illustrate subjects as seen through a microscope - it introduced the term 'cell'. The book became a scientific bestseller and launched widespread interest in microscopy.
9=. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - £6,414
A 1957 first edition, signed by Rand, of the novel that launched 'Objectivism'.
9=. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes I & II by Julia Child, Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle - £6,414
Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is arguably the most influential work on French food ever published in the United States. Volume I is signed by Simone Beck and by Child with her signature remark, 'Bon Appetite!'. Volume II is also signed by Child. First editions, the volumes were published in 1961 and 1970.
9=. Magnes Sive De Arte Magnetica Opus Tripartitum by Athanasius Kircher - £6,414
The German scholar discusses magnetism and a variety of other subjects in this 1654 edition.
10. Travels through the Southern Provinces of Russian Empire, in the Years 1793 and 1794 by Peter Simon Pallas - £5,886
Two volumes including four folding engraved maps, 51 engraved and aquatint plates and 19 engraved vignettes, many with original hand-colouring. Originally published as "Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reichs in einem ausfuhrlichen Auszuge" in three volumes in 1778, this edition is the first in English, dated 1802. A botanist and zoologist, Pallas traveled from St. Petersburg eastwards, along the Volga, to Astrakhan, the Caspian Sea, thence to the Caucasus Mountains, the Crimea, and back to St. Petersburg. This was his second expedition to southern Russia, after having settled with his family in St. Petersburg under the patronage of Catherine the Great in 1767. Travelling with his daughter, young second wife and a retinue of servants, Pallas covers the ethnology, costumes, flora, fauna, geology, topography and commerce of the southern provinces of Russia.