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Auction #115 begins on 30 May 2024

Elizabeth Nel

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (First Edition, Inscribed by Author, With Handwritten Card and Newspaper Clippings)

Published: Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1958

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London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1958

8vo, 188pp. Hardcover binding, with gilt lettering to spine. With frontispiece of author and 6 monochrome plates, collated and complete. With dust jacket.

First edition (1958), inscribed by author on full title page, with card mentioning matters relating to the Churchill family with original envelope, and with 2 newspaper clippings on author, loosely inserted.

Elizabeth Shakespear Nel (née Layton, 1917-2007) was a personal secretary to Winston Churchill from 1941 to 1945. In late May 1941 at around 22:30, she first met Winston Churchill. She sat at a silent typewriter where she immediately fell foul of the Prime Minister by making a mistake. He liked his speeches typed in double-spaced lines as he dictated, but she used single spacing. She was ordered from the room as Churchill berated her, using the words "fool", "mug", and "idiot".

She accompanied Churchill as he travelled abroad in the war years. Layton met President Franklin D. Roosevelt while in Washington D.C., with Churchill at the White House. Another trip saw her as part of the British delegation to the Yalta Conference in the Crimea. Churchill proposed a toast to "Miss Layton" at a banquet during the conference. She was the only woman present. Her last work in wartime was to take dictation of Churchill's VE-Day speech.

After the war, she migrated with her husband to South Africa. In later years, she was invited back to London on several occasions, including in 1990 for the 50th anniversary of Churchill becoming Prime Minister. She also returned in 2005 to join the Queen for the opening of the Churchill museum in the underground Cabinet War Rooms, beneath what is now the Treasury on Horse Guards Road. Nel is portrayed in the 2017 British film ‘Darkest Hour’ by Lily James. (wikipedia.com)

Condition: Dust jacket in good condition, with some rubbing, sunning to spine, light edgewear, and front flap is price-clipped. Book: Very good. Slight dusting to top edge of textblock. Previous bookseller’s label on front pastedown. Text and plates are clean. Well bound.

  • Jacket Condition: Good
  • Binding Condition: Very Good
  • Overall Condition: Very Good
  • Size: 8vo
  • Sold By: Bookdealers cc
  • Contact Person: Doron Locketz
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 0114407936
  • Preferred Payment Methods: EFT, Payfast, Credit Card
  • Trade Associations: South African Bookdealers Association


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