Years ago, the phone rang at about 4:30 a.m. “Dr. Johnston, this is Editor of the Darwin Letters Project at Cambridge University Library, and I have a favor to ask.” I shook out the cobwebs, failed to correct him in that I am not possessed of a PhD, and said, “Shoot.”
“Would you be willing to take on another British client?”
“Thank you. I will call you back.” The line went silent, and I slipped back into a waiting slumber. Within half an hour, the phone rang again.”
“Will you be in the UK in the near future?” As it happened, Catherine and I had a business trip planned.
“May I ask when?” I provided, and he said, “I’ll call you back.”
Within ten minutes, we received a third call.
“You have an appointment to meet with Peregrine and Yvonne Churchill at Fair Dawn, their home in the south of England. Peregrine is the last living board member of the Winston S. Churchill Family Trust, and we are recommending you to help him in formulating an electronic publishing strategy for Sir Winston’s papers. And that is how we became privy to not only Sir Winston’s works, but those of Lord Randolph Churchill and the preceding Dukes of Marlborough (I believe there were nine).
Stories from this business relationship abound (like holding the Guest Book of the opening of the family house in St. James Court, where the signatures of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra followed only those of the reigning King of England. To be honest, I cannot remember if it was George V or Edward VII.
To be continued …