Born November 30, 1874 at Blenheim palace, Churchill is frequently regarded as Britain's greatest prime minister of the 20th century.

As a very short biography (won't go into it too much 'cause it's not interesting and can be found at other locations like Encarta) he was prime minister twice (1940-1945 and 1951-1955) and he once won the Nobel prize for literature in 1953. Churchill died aged 90 in 1964.

What I am going to concentrate this article on is Churchill's speeches, writings and alleged quotes as many are powerful, some witty but above all - most are interesting:

First of all there are his war speeches with quotes such as:

  • "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour." - Speech delivered soon after the collapse of France.
  • "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." - During speech referring to the efforts of the seriously undermanned RAF in the Battle of Britain (this is often regarded as a major turning point in WW2)
  • "We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!" - Speech delivered in June 1940 after a swift evacuation of British troops from France.
And then there are his lesser known witticisms...
  • Lady Astor: "Winston, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee."
    Winston: "Nancy, if I were your husband I'd drink it."
  • Unknown woman: "Winston, you appear to be drunk!"
    Winston: "And you my dear are ugly but tomorrow I'll be sober"
  • Winston: "Madam, Would you sleep with me for 1m Pounds?"
    Unknown woman: "Yes sir, I think i would"
    Winston: "Well, how about 1 Pound?"
    Unknown woman: "Winston! What sort of woman do you think i am?"
    Winston: "Madam, that matter has already been solved. Now we're just bartering over your price."
The quote about haggling over the price is more commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, with the original price as 5000 pounds.

Churchill also served as First Sea Lord during the First World War, losing the position after the disastrous attack on the Dardanelles. He was not everyone's first choice for Prime Minister, forming a government of national unity at the beginning of the war. He was unceremoniously kicked out by the electorate immediately after the end of the war, reflecting that, to a great extent, he was an ideal leader for wartime, but not quite what was necessary in peace.

Perhaps my favorite Churchill (though i do like the chicken quote) is his description of Montgomery, the Allied commander: ``Indomitable in retreat; invincible in advance; insufferable in victory.''

No entry on Churchill is complete without noting that (at least by today's standards) he was an insufferable bigot. He actively opposed women getting the vote1 and authorised the use of mustard gas against Kurdish villagers, saying he could not understand people's squeamishness about using gas on uncivilised tribes2. He also sent in troops to put down striking welsh miners3 and was one of colonialism's staunchest defenders.

During the May Day 2000 'riots' in central London someone painted the statue of Churchill which stands on Parliament Square with red paint dripping blood-style from his mouth, and somebody gave it a rather fetching lawn mohican. In the media furore which followed a lot of newspapers ran conveniently outraged eulogies of the man; to someone who knew a bit about him besides the fact that he led the country in war time and made some powerful speeches, all this hagiography rang hollow.


  • 1 See eg. http://www.winstonchurchill.org/wjenniejerome.htm. He was with his mother on this, but apparently he later changed his mind when he realised how many women would vote for him. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/53819.stm quotes his reaction to seeing a woman in parliament in the 1920s: "It was as embarrassing as if she burst into my bathroom when I had nothing on with which to defend myself".
  • 2 See eg. http://www.iraqwar.org/chemical.htm, http://www.khilafah.com/home/category.php?DocumentID=6888&TagID=2 - it is not clear that gas was in in the end ever used in the campaign of brutal repression of Kurds (which was maintained mainly by bombing) but it is a matter of record that Churchill strongly favoured it.
  • 3 See eg. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/winston_churchill.htm, and http://www.theidler.co.uk/html/frontsection/churchill.htm, which also backs up the rest of this - it seems that in the end, the police took care of the action (in which two miners died), but troops were at the ready.
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, British Prime Minister during the Second World War, should not be confused with the American novelist Winston Churchill. Quite early in their respective careers, the British Churchill shared a meal with the American Churchill. As the American Churchill was already an established author, the British Churchill offered to always use his middle initial "S" to avoid confusion. The British Churchill is said to have commented to the American Churchill that he intended to be Prime Minister of Britain someday and mused about how it would be quite something if the American Churchill happened to be President of the United States at the same time.


The British Churchill

What were our reserves?

During the Battle of Britain, Churchill would sometimes visit Fighter Command's Operations Room. Towards the end of one visit during which Churchill witnessed a particularily intense day of fighting, Churchill is said to have asked one of the officers in charge 'what were our reserves?'. Churchill was apparently somewhat taken aback by the response - 'none'.

The "Iron Curtain"

On March 5, 1946, Winston S. Churchill presented a speech titled Sinews of Peace at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. In this speech, Churchill introduced (i.e. invented) the term "iron curtain". The relevant sentence from the speech is
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

Savrola

Although Winston S. Churchill published many quite well known if not downright famous works of non-fiction he published but one novel, Savrola, in 1899.

Books by Winston S. Churchill

The date of first publication or copyright date appears in parentheses before each title.
  • (1897) The Story of the Malakand Field Force
  • (1899) The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
  • (1899) Savrola (fiction)
  • (1899) London to Ladysmith
  • (1906) Lord Randolph Churchill - a biography of WSC's father
  • (1908) My African Journey - his only travelogue.
  • (19??) Liberalism and the Social Problem - an early collection of speeches.
  • (1911?) The People's Rights - collection of speeches from the 1911 general election.
  • (1903) Mr. Broderick's Army
  • (19??) Free Trade
  • (1923-29) The World Crisis - comprehensive history of the period from 1911 to 1928. Five volumes in six parts, 2500+ pages.
  • (1930) My Early Life / A Roving Commission
  • (1931) The Eastern Front
  • (19??) India - WSC's speeches on India
  • (1932) Thoughts and Adventures / Amid These Storms
  • (1933-38) Life of Marlborough - WSC's definitive history of his ancestor, John Churchill, who became the first Duke of Marlborough
  • (1937) Great Contemporaries - essays on the great figures of his time. Considered to be one of his better books.
  • (194?) Arms and the Covenant - WSC's speeches from 1932 through to Munich
  • (194?) Step by Step 1936-1939 - companion volume to Arms and the Covenant
  • (1941-46) The War Speeches - published as seven volumes
    • (194?) Into Battle / Blood Sweat and Tears - "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat" to his homecoming at Harrow School
    • (194?) The Unrelenting Struggle - November 14, 1940 to the end of 1941. Includes his first speech to the U.S. Congress "Some Chicken, Some Neck" (speech to Canadian Parliament)
    • (194?) The End of the Beginning - 1942 (roughly)
    • (194?) Onwards to Victory - 1943 (roughly)
    • (194?) The Dawn of Liberation - speeches leading up to D-day
    • (194?) Victory - the events leading to final victory
    • (194?) Secret Session Speeches - speeches delivered during closed door sessions of the House of Commons during the war
  • (1948-1953) History of the Second World War - WSC's monumental history of World War II. Since it is written from his perspective (and what a perspective it is!), the focus is almost entirely on the European theatre. About 5,000 pages spread over five volumes. This is an absolute must read for any WWII history buff!
  • (194?) The Sinews of Peace - first of his post-war speeches
  • (194?) Painting as Pastime - first volume publication of WSC's famous essay about his hobby (first appeared in "The Strand" in 1921).
  • (194?) Europe Unite - 1947-48 speeches
  • (195?) In the Balance - 1949-50 speeches
  • (195?) Stemming the Tide - 1951-52 speeches
  • (1956) History of the English-Speaking Peoples - masterful four volume history of England and America
  • (195?) The Unwritten Alliance - 1943-59 speeches
Sources: all over the place (including dusty corners of my brain); a major source for the list of books was an inventory list of Churchill related books found at http://www.churchillbooks.com/flatfile.shtml (last accessed 2002/09/28)

The American Churchill

Winston Churchill was born in St. Louis, Mo in 1871. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1894, resigned from the Navy and then married Mabel Harlakenden Hall in 1895. He was elected to the New Hampshire legislature in 1902. After running unsuccessfully for Governor of New Hampshire in 1912, he withdrew from the political arena (he may have also run for Governor in 1906). At the height of his career (about 1918), a personal crisis resulted in his withdrawal from public life. The next twenty years were spent in isolation and personal reflection.

He wrote a number of books including

  • The Celebrity (1898,novel)
  • Richard Carvel (1899,novel)
  • The Crisis (1901,novel)
  • The Crossing (1904,novel)
  • Coniston (1906,novel)
  • Mr. Crewe's Career (1908,novel)
  • A Modern Chronicle (1910,novel) (available online at http://wwwfac.mcdaniel.edu/History/mc.html (last accessed 2002/10/16))
  • The Inside of the Cup (1913,novel)
  • A Far Country (1915,novel)
  • The Dwelling-Place of Light (1917,novel)
  • The Uncharted Way (1940,reflection on religion)
He was an accomplished author with many bestselling books. Certainly in the early stages of his career when he was possibly the most popular author in the U.S., there was little doubt in the U.S. who Winston Churchill was (and he wasn't British).

One of the articles that he wrote was called Modern Government and Christianity and was published in the January, 1912 issue of Atlantic Monthly (the article is available at http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/12jan/churchillchr.htm (last accessed 2002/10/15))

Winston Churchill passed away on March 12, 1947 in Winter Park, Florida.

Robert W. Schneider has written a biography of Winston Churchill titled Novelist to a Generation: The Life and Thought of Winston Churchill, 1976.

The author of this w/u learned of the existence of the American Churchill by buying one of his books on eBay (he was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that he'd purchased something distinctly different than what he had thought he was purchasing - a book by the British Churchill).

Major sources:

  • the web page titled About Winston Churchill located at http://wwwfac.mcdaniel.edu/History/churchill.html (last accessed 2002/10/16)
  • the web page titled Winston Churchill located at http://www.nndb.com/people/735/000048591/ (last accessed 2005/01/07)

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