January 1, 1970

It’s not often remembered that Churchill was a writer of fiction – Savrola is easily forgotten – but he did write various counterfactual history – or fantasy – stories. Read here about his 1930 story reversing the outcome of the American Civil War and forestalling the First World War.

Churchill’s final ‘novel’ The Dream

Churchill’s last foray into the realm of imagination was a short story called The Dream. First drafted in 1947 – and called simply ‘Private Article’ – and subsequently revised over many years, it was reserved for posthumous publication, eventually being published in the Sunday Telegraph, almost exactly a year after Churchill’s death. In the story an elderly Churchill discusses events of the twentieth century with the ghost of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who died in 1895.

Apparently, Churchill relayed a version of this conversation with his father’s ghost to his son Randolph and his daughter Sarah at a family meal ‘in late 1946 or early 1947’. Pointing to a vacant chair round the table, Sarah had asked who he’d most like to see sitting with them. He replied ‘Oh, my father, of course’. They’d expected him to name one of his heroes – Napoleon or Marlborough – but in fact he’d named his greatest hero; his father.

National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City

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Of course, Churchill had had a troubled relationship with his father and it was one of his greatest regrets that he’d never fulfilled Lord Randolph’s ambitions before his father died. Churchill’s son, Randolph, believed that The Dream was inspired by Churchill’s great regret that his father hadn’t lived to see all that Churchill had achieved.

Although Churchill wasn’t convinced about the concept of an afterlife, he did believe there was some spiritual connection with his ancestors and always insisted that ‘Man is Spirit’. Read more about this here (scroll to p.8).

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