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LETTERS

Churchill's writing

August 03, 2003

As the editor charged with finding reviewers for the continuing avalanche of books about Churchill, I appreciated William Wallace's comprehensive account of the Churchill book "cottage industry" ("Authors' Finest Hour," July 27).

I would like to point out, however, that the "Churchill Society" individual who thinks Churchill's family writing books about him is "somewhat disreputable" does not speak for the International Churchill Society or the Churchill Centre. We think nothing of the sort, since Sir Winston himself began the tradition with his masterful biography of his father, Lord Randolph; and since Martin Gilbert's commanding Churchill biography would never have existed had not Sir Winston's son Randolph begun that task in 1965.

Mr. Wallace is also incorrect when he suggests that the sale of the Churchill Papers was "cultural extortion," and that retention of the copyright means "anyone wanting to quote significant chunks of Churchillian passages [has] to pay for it." The Churchill Centre has published significant chunks of Sir Winston's writing for 25 years at absolutely no charge by courtesy of his grandson -- as have many other nonprofit, charitable and educational institutions.

Levying charges for commercial use is a perfectly legitimate function of Sir Winston Churchill's will, which left the copyright to his son and thence his grandson. Mr. Wallace would not regard his heirs charging for the rights to his work as "cultural extortion" -- would he?

Richard M. Langworth

Hopkinton, N.H.

Richard M. Langworth is the editor of Finest Hour, the Journal of the Churchill Centre.

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