In 2006, at Christie’s South Kensington, that price was paid for a somewhat battered US first that Churchill had inscribed aboard the SS Etruria in February 1901.
A copy of Savrola sold online for £1400 in the West Midlands recently was a much later edition: issued in 1915 by Hodder & Stoughton as part of its ‘Sevenpenny Library’.
Part of a September 16-17 sale held by Fieldings (24% buyer’s premium) of Stourbridge, it was in rather poor condition in grubby red boards and had been valued at just £80-120.
However, glued into the front of the book was a typed note on ‘10 Downing Street’ headed notepaper bearing the message “Dear Sir, I am desired by Mrs Churchill to return herewith your copy of ‘Savrola’ which the Prime Minister has autographed” (shown above).
That note bore the signature of G Hamblin, Private Secretary, but on the facing blank appears the signature of the man whose hand the book’s owner really wanted to see.
Churchill’s only major work of fiction, Savrola deals with events in the state of Laurenia as opposition to the dictatorial rule of President Molara turns to violent revolution.