Commemorating Churchill and Shakespeare
Two Special Gifts
These two gifts from the beginning and end of Churchill’s career demonstrate that his friends knew he admired Shakespeare. In 1898, actress-manager Maud Beerbohm Tree and her daughter Violet gave Churchill the six-volume Oxford Miniature Shakespeare pictured below. He was about to see action in the British campaign to reconquer the Sudan. To British empire-builders, Shakespeare represented the English values they hoped to impose on the places they conquered.
In 1954, Rhoda Birley, garden designer and wife of Churchill’s portraitist Sir Oswald Birley, presented Churchill with a specially-bound anthology of Shakespeare’s poems, probably a gift for his 80th birthday.