Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (November 30, 1874 - January 24, 1965) was a British politician, army officer, author, historian and amateur artist. He is best known for serving as Britain's Prime Minister during most of World War II.
Churchill was a prolific writer, chiefly of non-fiction. His works include newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, an autobiography, one novel, one short story, the scripts for two films and collections of his wartime speeches. His best known books are The Second World War, published in six volumes between 1948 and 1954, and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, first published in four volumes between 1956 and 1958. Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
Winston Churchill was born in his aristocratic family's ancestral home, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, on November 30, 1874. His grandfather was the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a Conservative politician who served as Secretary of State for India, Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer (minister of finance). His mother Jeanette "Jennie" Jerome was an American, the daughter of a millionaire from New York City.
In 1894, Churchill graduated from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was sent to observe the Cuban War of Independence in 1895. Churchill's first published writings were articles that he wrote about the war for the British newspaper The Graphic. Churchill saw active military service in India in 1896, in Sudan in 1898 and in the Second Boer War in South Africa in 1899. During those campaigns, Churchill also served as war correspondent for the Indian newspaper The Pioneer and the British newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Morning Post. Books chronicling his experiences in those wars were published soon afterwards.
In 1900, Churchill was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the northern English town of Oldham. In 1904, he switched allegiance to the Liberal Party and served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty before the First World War. Churchill lost his position as First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I because of the disastrous battle plans which he put forward for the Battle of Galipoli. Churchill briefly returned to active military service and commanded troops on the Western Front. Churchill returned to parliament in 1917 and served as Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air.
In 1923, Churchill rejoined the Conservative Party and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 to 1929.
Churchill was out of office for most of the 1930s. During that time, he wrote several newspaper articles which warned about the threat posed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
At the start of World War II, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty again. When Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned on May 10, 1940, Churchill took over his office and headed a coalition government. Churchill served as Prime Minister for most of the war. His refusal to surrender, compromise with the enemy or contemplate defeat are considered to have set a powerful example for the British people. His speeches and radio broadcasts were particularly important in mainataining morale.
Churchill lost the July 1945 election but continued to lead the Conservative Party in opposition. In October 1951, Churchill was elected for his second term as Prime Minister and held office until 1955.
In 1964, Churchill retired from parliament. Having suffered a severe stroke on January 15, 1965, Churchill died nine days later. He was given a state funeral, attended by Queen Elizabeth II and representatives from one hundred and twelve countries. His funeral was covered live on television by every European country except for Ireland and attracted 350 million viewers across the continent.
Career as a writer
Churchill began writing as a war correspondent in 1895 because his father's death forced him to seek an additional means of making money. Churchill's writings continued to be his major source of income throughout his life. He wrote some eight million words in forty books and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles.
Most of Churchill's earliest books were recounts of his military experiences, although his only novel, Savrola set in the fictional European country of Laurania, was published in 1900.
The books for which Churchill is best known today are his seven volume The Second World War and his four volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
The Second World War is written in the first person and covers the period from the end of World War I to July 1945. The focus of the work is on the British war effort with relatively little information about the conflict in the Soviet Union and in the Pacific. The work is based on Churchill's own notes, which he began taking when he became Prime Minister in 1940, and on official documents which Churchill was able to access due to his position as a Member of Parliament. Deficiencies in the work only came to light after Churchill's death, for example, he was unable to comment on code breaking because the documents relating to it were still Top Secret.
Although it is not the work of an impartial professional historian, Churchill's The Second World War still has considerable value to students of history as the memoir of a wartime leader, especially considering that no similar work was written by Hitler, Stalin or Roosevelt.
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples deals with the history of the United Kingdom, the United States and the British Empire from the time of Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55 BCE until World War I. Churchill began work on it in 1937 but it was interrupted by World War II and Churchill's writing of The Second World War. The work was originally published in four volumes between 1956 and 1958. Abridged versions in a single volume have been published more recently.
A BBC TV drama series called Churchill's People which was loosely based on A History of the English-Speaking Peoples was broadcast in 1974 and 1975. The series received largely negative reviews and got poor ratings, which resulted in it being moved from prime time to a late night slot.
A book intended to serve as a sequel to Churchill's series, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, was written by Andrew Roberts and published in 2006.
- The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898)
- "Man Overboard" (a short story first published in The Harmsworth Magazine, January 1899)
- The River War (1899)
- Savrola (1900, Churchill's only novel)
- London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900)
- Ian Hamilton's March (1900)
- Mr. Broderick's Army (1903)
- Lord Randolph Churchill (1906)
- For Free Trade (1906)
- My African Journey (1908)
- Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909)
- The People's Rights (1910)
- The World Crisis (1923-1931)
- My Early Life: A Roving Comission (1930)
- "If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg" (in this essay, Churchill imagines that he is a historian from a world in which the Confederacy won the American Civil War. The historian imagines what would have happened if the South had not won the war. First published in Scribner's Magazine, December 1930)
- India (1931)
- Thoughts and Adventures (1932, published in the United States as Amid These Storms)
- Marlborough: His Life and Times (1933-1938)
- Great Contemporaries (1932)
- Arms and the Covenant or While England Slept: A Survey of World Affairs 1932-1938 (1938)
- Step by Step 1936-1939 (1939)
- Addresses Delivered in the Year 1940 (1940)
- Broadcast Addresses (1941)
- Into Battle (1941, published in the United States as Blood, Sweat and Tears)
- The Unrelenting Struggle (1942)
- The End of the Beginning (1943)
- Onwards to Victory (1944)
- The Dawn of Liberation (1945)
- Victory (1946)
- Secret Sessions Speeches (1946)
- War Speeches 1940-1945 (1946)
- The Second World War (1948-1954)
- The Sinews of Peace (1948)
- Painting as a Pastime (1948)
- Europe Unite (1950)
- In the Balance (1951)
- The War Speeches 1939-1945 (1952)
- Stemming the Tide (1953)
- A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958)
- The Unwritten Alliance (1961)