Churchill collection donated to USC

As a child growing up in Kingstree during World War II, E. Conyers O'Bryan Jr. wallpapered his room with magazine articles about the war in general and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill in particular.

As an adult, O'Bryan stocked the shelves of his study with books written by Churchill or purchased from the world leader's private collection after his death.

Friday, O'Bryan formally donated his collection to the University of South Carolina to encourage students and researchers to focus on the statesman he calls "the man of the century."

"When we'd have guests at our house, they'd go in and look at the books and paintings," said O'Bryan, a Florence cardiologist and USC alumnus. "It seemed to me something like this ought to be shared by thousands of people, not just a few people who come by my study."

The donation includes more than 80 books, many of them first editions and signed by Churchill. There's a first edition of his first book, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" (1897), and of his only novel, "Savrola" (1899). The donation also features an original landscape oil painting done by Churchill in 1935 and a limited-edition mezzotint portrait of him outside No. 10 Downing Street.

The collection doesn't include every book written by the prolific Churchill, said Patrick Scott, director of special collections at USC's Thomas Cooper Library. But the donated works, combined with the university's existing Churchill collection, mean "any student here can see that this was a man of many gifts," Scott said.

The collection will be on display at the Thomas Cooper Library through Oct. 26 and will move into the new Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library in the spring.