ChurchillPA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The only known poem written by William Churchill as an adult is up for auction today. The poem, written while he was serving in the Army in 1899 and 1900, has received mixed reviews, but would be a great addition to a collection.

So what will it sell for, and just how popular is Churchill memorabilia?


The poem

The 40 line poem is written in blue crayon on notepaper from the 4th Hussars in India. Bonhams, the auction house, says this is the only poem he is known to have written as an adult (although he did win a poetry-writing prize at Harrow and one of his poems is still owned by the school).

It has been given an estimate of between £10,000 and £15,000 - although the final price will depend entirely on the sentiments of bidders today.

It begins: The shadow falls along the shore
The search lights twinkle on the sea...

According to the BBC, Andrew Motion said the "reliable, heavy-footed rhythm" and "stirring, old-fashioned sentiments" were expected. But he said "the shadow of Auden passes over the page and makes everything briefly more surprising".

Enthusiasts

It's unlikely to shake the poetry world, but the world of Churchill enthusiasts will be more keen - and there are plenty of them.

They tend to snap up his paintings. In 2007, a landscape of his home in Chartwell sold at auction for £1 million. At that point, prices for his paintings had doubled over the previous ten years.

Fans are also known to pay a small fortune for the most obscure objects from his life:

A Land Rover given to him for his 80th birthday fetched an astonishing £129,000 when it was sold in November. The vehicle had been made especially for him - with extra-wide seats. The estimate had been £50,000-£60,000, but two keen bidders drove the price up dramatically.

Meanwhile a half-smoked cigar from the great man sold for £4,500 back in 2010, and a butter dish he used as an ashtray sold for £4,200 the previous November.

Even a set of dentures he wore during the war fetched £15,200 at auction.

It starts to make a self-penned poem for the same price look like a real bargain.


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