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Churchill, Lady) Anglo-Saxon Review.

Anglo-Saxon Review, 10 vols.


Lady Churchill's Magazine
A Complete Run in Splendid Condition
Churchill, Lady Spencer Randolph, ed. The Anglo-Saxon Review. A Quarterly Miscellany. Vol. 1 June 1899-Vol. X September 1901. London and New York: John Lane, 1899-1901.
10 vols., small folio; illustrated; offsetting to endpapers and light foxing to preliminaries and fore-edges; varying bindings in morocco after celebrated originals, elaborately stamped in gilt; t.e.g.           
A fine set of this remarkable periodical founded by Winston Churchill's mother; listed by Rostenberg and Stern among the seminal feminist journals as item 41 in "Feminism is Collectible," Between Boards, p. 180. While Lady Churchill admittedly allows space in her periodical for the great men of her time-works by or about, or portraits of, James, Gosse, Swinburne, George Washington, Poe, Crane, Tolstoy, and Turgenev, among others, appear-she provides a generous platform for her accomplished female peers: Elizabeth Robins and the Duchess of Devonshire both wrote for Volume One, in which portraits appear of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Anne of Austria, Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and, of course, Her Majesty, the Queen. Portraits of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Elizabeth Browning, and John Singer Sargent's portrait of Lady Churchill appear in later volumes. As of the September 1900 issue, in which the second of her two articles appears, Lady Churchill identified herself on the title page in a parenthetical beneath her name: "(Mrs. George Cornwallis-West)."
Lady Churchill was supported in this venture by her son, but he disagreed violently with his mother's choice of title and persuaded her to drop her planned sub-title, "Blood is thicker than Water," before it was too late. He was not alone in finding the title bizarre: it suggests a learned journal on Beowulf and related subjects, or a compendium of nationalist discourses leaning towards the supremacist position. The Anglo-Saxon Review is, however, a fairly sophisticated literary journal, with contributions by Henry James, Gordon Craig, Max Beerbohm, Edmond Gosse, Maurice Baring, George Gissing, Andrew Lang, George Bernard Shaw, R.B. Cunninghame Graham, and many others literary lights.
Despite its fairly modest claims to literary merit, the real cause for celebration of The Anglo-Saxon Review is the bindings. Organized by Cyril Davenport, each of the ten large volumes is a facsimile of one of the world's great bookbindings, well executed in full morocco, and with an explanatory essay by Davenport. The bindings include a magnificent Samuel Mearne, a Derome, a binding for James I, a painted Italian binding, and a book bound for James 1st. The ambition of these designs was somewhat sabotaged by the quality of their manufacture, and nearly all copies have since deteriorated badly. This set, however, has suffered only occasional scuffs and mild spine darkening.
An astonishingly lovely set.
Jennie Jerome, a cosmopolitan woman by nature and by circumstance, was born in Brooklyn on January 9, 1854. The future artist, society figure, and political thinker was one of four daughters. Her father was a financier and she was born into a world of comfort and privilege as well as one in which she was surrounded by culture. (Remember, this was at the time when only the rich lived in Brooklyn, then a separate city created to divide proper folks from the riff-raff of Manhattan.) Jennie's life was permanently altered at an early age by a trip the family took to Trieste. This continental sojourn planted in Jennie's mother's head "a determination that her daughters should become a part of the European world" (NAW). As a result of her mother's ambitions, Jennie and her sisters were thereafter raised largely in Europe (France and England especially), and she determined for them that a cultured life in the theatre as well as a smart marriage would be the wisest move for each of her daughters.
Jennie got her chance for such a marriage in 1873, when the family summered at Cowes, England. "There, at a dance on board a British cruiser in August, Jennie met Lord Randolph Churchill, younger son of the Duke of Marlborough. Three days later he proposed marriage to the vivacious and fascinating American girl" (NAW). The two were married at the British embassy in Paris on April 15, 1874. And although some "arranged" or "shotgun" marriages turn out to be short-lived, this one was to proved otherwise:
It turned out to be an extraordinarily successful partnership, for the two complemented each other admirably. Randolph, tense, sensitive, keen, but with meager physical reserves" had a long and proud lineage to fall back on as well as an aspiring political career later documented by his son Winston, and he "…could draw on Jennie's more robust energy and vitality. (NAW)
Jennie was not only extremely attractive but was also intelligent, cultured, and ambitious as well as a woman of her own ideas. With her qualities of "striking beauty, her great animation, her ready and sometimes outrageous wit, Lady Randolph [as Jennie became] was an immediate success in London" and in Blenheim Palace, seat of the Duke of Marlborough (NAW). But Jennie proved to be much more. One of her most lasting accomplishments was giving birth, on November 30, 1874, to her eldest son Winston Leonard Spenser-Churchill, one of the foremost influential figures of the 20th century. In contrast to the pattern of the aristocracy maintaining a "civilized" distance from their children, Jennie was a hands-on mother who always maintained an extremely close bond with her son. The closeness between mother and son would last until her death in 1921. He later paid tribute to her in his writings; for example, late in life he declared, "My mother always seemed to me a fairy Princess: a radiant being possessed of limitless riches and power."
Jennie devoted great energy to promoting, or trying to promote, her husband's political career (one suspects that perhaps she was living a bit through her husband and her son, given the political limitations imposed on her as woman at that place and time) and she was devastated when he died suddenly in January 1895. According to the NAW,
[Jennie] never entirely succeeded in rebuilding her life [after Lord Randolph's death]. Yet a woman of her undoubted abilities and her restless energy could not be happy with the conventional life of a society widow. The two principal ventures of her early widowhood reflect genuine solicitude for better Anglo-American understanding. The first of these was a quarterly magazine, The Anglo-Saxon Review, founded in 1899 and edited by herself. An overambitious attempt to establish a periodical which would be a permanent addition to the bookshelves of its readers, it had a list of contributors that reads almost like a Who's Who of the 1890s. Priced at a guinea a copy, the Review achieved something of a success d'estime but survived only for ten issues.
All ten issues are present in this collection.  
Always an iconoclast, Lady Churchill shocked polite society by remarrying in 1900 to Lieut. George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West of the Scots Guards, described in NAW as "…a contemporary of her son Winston [and a marriage which] scandalized London society." Next, Jennie "took up the pen, turning out a volume of Reminiscences (1908) - exceedingly discreet and not wholly reliable - a collection of essays, Short Talks on Great Subjects (1916), and two plays, Her Borrowed Plumes and The Bill. Both were produced, the first in 1909 starring the famous Mrs. Patrick Campbell" (NAW). The second was produced in 1913, and in 1914 she divorced Cornwallis-West, who immediately married Campbell. Jennie reclaimed her title as Lady Churchill, continued writing, and pushing Winston. She made certain that he enlisted in the military and served in the Boer war campaign, and she had published his first dispatches from the front that made him a war hero and a viable political figure. During the Boer War she was chairwoman of a committee of American women in Britain, in which capacity she raised over 40,000 pounds to equip a hospital ship.
When she was in her late sixties Jennie married again, this time to Montagu Phippen Porch (b.  1877), an Oxford graduate, veteran of the Boer War, and a member of the Nigerian civil service. According to the admittedly dated NAW, "throughout the years…it was Lady Randolph's not unmerited lot to be viewed more than ever as a somewhat eccentric, unpredictable, though undeniably fascinating, creature."
Lady Churchill died in London in 1921 after a fall following a leg amputation. Winston was horrified and deeply moved by her death. She was buried beside Lord Randolph Churchill at Bladon, near Blenheim Palace. Sadly, even in its obituary the New York Times could not stop itself from taking a swipe at her, writing that "the essential strength in her…insured respect and saved her from the full penalty of ridicule which her elderly sentimentalities involved" (quoted in NAW). From our new millennium point of view, Jennie seems to have been a creative and smart woman stuck in and frustrated by the constraints of the conventional gender-bound society of her time, and trying her best to fight it, every way she knew how. Perhaps if she had lived in a different time, her efforts to gain autonomy and respect would have been successful. We can only hope so. But as a consolation, we are left with this remarkable collection of her creative output, a survival and preservation of her feminist intellectual and political work in all its dignity.

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