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Launch of Winston Churchill by his Personal Secretary

Book Launch of Winston Churchill by his Personal Secretary
Recollections of the Great Man
by A Woman Who Worked for Him
Elizabeth Nel

The launch of Elizabeth Nel’s book on Winston Churchill at the Churchill Museum, Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, in February 2008, was a great success, thanks to the enthusiasm and energy of Celia Murray, who did all the hard work for the occasion and, in fact, made the event possible. As she herself said, it was graced with “wonderful people, excellent speeches and superb Nederburg top wines”, and Celia Murray finished off the event with a toast to Elizabeth Nel (with glasses of Amarula, which the late author occasionally used to enjoy diluted with milk!) I am very indebted to Celia for organising the event, and a particular pleasure for me was being able to meet many of the Diadem Book authors for the first time!  I asked Celia to write a few paragraphs about the event, and her report is given here in full. I am indebted to her, too, for the photographs. I am also indebted to Janet Noddings, of Lincoln, Nebraska, for all her meticulous help in the production process of the book.—Charles Muller, Diadem Books.

The Story of an amazing book launch in honour of Mrs. Elizabeth Nel.

Planning, creating and holding a book launch in honour of someone as admirable and honourable as Elizabeth Nel - the author of Winston Churchill by his Personal Secretary, was a sheer pleasure.

Closely supporting me – through many ups and downs, changes of dates, printing errors, regular email and telephonic consultations, was the publishing editor, Dr. Charles Muller miles away in Clashnessie enjoying his private beach from his home perched high up on the hill above the bay.

Of course he told me he was proofreading another book!

The heavily engaging work on the launch began in October 2007 when I travelled to South Africa to visit Elizabeth Nel, at the time 90 years of age and still living in her home in Port Elizabeth. She was frail and yet showed such joy and delight at receiving her first copy of the updated copy of her book.   She lifted her book up high and said, “Now it can go round the world!” Those words sent me out determined to get the book onto every bookshelf!



Lady Mary Soames - Churchill's daughter.



The Hon.Celia Sandys (granddaughter of Winston Churchill)

Back in Chirnside, Scotland, I approached the Director of the Churchill Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms in London, Mr. Phil Reed, about the use of the Museum for the event. When I told him that Elizabeth had once told me “Just mention my name and he will usher you in!” – he did! So our appropriate venue was fixed for 25th February 2008.  In the meantime, I had drafted the formal invitation with its logo of Churchill to make it authentic.   Then the invitation lists were drawn up until we had Churchill family, VIPs, authors from Diadem Books, friends and family, the media and TV reps – 78 in all.

The invitations went out in stages in order to receive the replies in like manner.  The replies were simply charming – especially from those who knew Elizabeth Nel since 1941 – some stylish, others brief, but generally they were appreciative and enthusiastic about our novel event.

Charles Muller - Publisher at the Podium


Angelo Nel, grandson of Elizabeth Nel, came all the way from South Africa to attend the launch.

Once the invited guest speakers accepted and the food, flowers and refreshments were secured for delivery to the Cabinet War Rooms, King Charles Street, it was all go! There was a hustle and bustle as the guests arrived for a 7 p.m. start.  Nametags were a great help in identifying the special members of the Churchill family.

The Programme included our four main speakers: The Hon.Celia Sandys (granddaughter of Winston Churchill), Lady Mary Soames (Churchill’s daughter) and Angelo Nel and Martine Schlosser, both grandchildren to Elizabeth Nel.  Charles Muller spoke on the book’s progress and how he became involved in its publishing and I closed the memorable evening with a toast to our beloved friend and author, Elizabeth Nel.

Martine Schlosser, granddaughter of Elizabeth Nel.


Like Angelo Nel, Martine flew out from South Africa to address the launch.

This has been an incredibly rewarding and satisfying exercise with the guidance, support and encouragement of Elizabeth Nel’s children, Andrea, Deborah and Francois, who kept in touch with me by email from South Africa.

I am not sure who invited who into this progressive unfolding of the book launch, but I feel I owe Charles Muller my heartfelt thanks for granting me this opportunity and memorable challenge.

Celia Murray, Chirnside. Scotland.

26th March, 2008.

Charles Muller with author Nick Armbrister and his wife Xochitel, at the launch of the Churchill book.

Rose Savanch (Author from Zimbabwe), Enoch Acheampong (web designer), & Robert Peprah-Gyamfi (author from Ghana)


Exhibit: display by Celia Murray


Author Alan Charles Dickens and Charles Muller


Romina Torre, Celia Murray, Peter van't Hoogerhuys and Rev. Duncan Murray


Elizabeth Nel served as Winston Churchill’s personal secretary during World War II. The vivid and human details of her experiences, of her impressions and memories of that great man at the height of the conflict against Hitler, make this compelling reading. An epilogue about the subsequent life of Elizabeth Nel over the past 60 years brings the book up to date. She now lives in South Africa, having turned 90 in June 2007.



The Author when she served as Winston Churchill's personal secretary during World War Two: