January 1, 1970

In 1938, with the final volume of The World Crisis finally out of the way and his political career in the doldrums, Churchill launched himself on another big project. As always, he was living beyond his means and needed the funds. Back in 1932, he had badgered his publishers, Cassell,into giving him an enormous advance – £20,000 – for another multi-volume work, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Due to deliver the magnum opus in 1939, he had started work on it only in August 1938, with a target of a thousand words a day. He hadn’t completed it when the Nazis invaded France (although he’d written half a million words); the English-Speaking Peoples of Britain needed him and history overtook history writing. He did deliver a version of the text while at the Admiralty, but it wasn’t complete or finalised, and the publishers turned it down and demanded their money back. But of course the hero who had helped Britain to victory in the Second World War was a different proposition, and anything he wrote was bound to earn the advance.

The publishers allowed Churchill a period of grace and he eventually finished it, with the help of researchers and several leading historians (A. L. Rowse, Asa Briggs, J. H Plumb, among others) – such a large project was beyond the sole energies of the now-elderly man – in the 1950s, after his Second World War memoirs were out of the way.

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