January 1, 1970

Shortly after leaving office he began his biography of his illustrious ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough which was published in four volumes between 1933 and 1938 (it was originally published in serial form in the Sunday Times in 1933). What had originally been conceived as a one or two-volume work more than doubled in size. To get the job done, he began a practice he was to continue – hiring bright young researchers and academics to help marshall the information and help him write the books – and hired a young Maurice Ashley to assist. With his help, Churchill was still writing about two thousand words a day.

With the rise of Nazism in Europe, telling the story of his ancestor’s similar battle against domination of Europe by a single power (albeit Louis XIV’s France rather than Hitler’s Germany), his work on Marlborough no doubt inspired Churchill in his campaign against appeasement.

Click here to see clips from David Starkey’s recent Channel 4 TV series on The Churchills, telling the story of the two greatest war leaders in British history – Churchill and his ancestor, John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough.

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