The Place to Find All Things Churchill
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The International Churchill Society

In association with the
Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre and the
Churchill Archives Centre
presents the

Sir Martin Gilbert
Churchill Conversations


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The Sir Martin Gilbert Churchill Conversations are a series of virtual events in honour of the late Churchill biographer which discuss new scholarship and perspectives on the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill. Find out more about Sir Martin Gilbert here.

The online conversations will be moderated by Professor Shirli Gilbert and Mr Allen Packwood. They are free and open to all. Find the registration details and biographies of the speakers below.

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Event Moderators

Shirli Gilbert is Professor of Modern Jewish History at University College London and Academic Director of the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre.

Gilbert obtained her D.Phil. at the University of Oxford and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan. She writes and teaches widely on the Holocaust and its legacies, modern Jewish identity, and Jews in South Africa. Her publications include Music in the Holocaust (2005), From Things Lost: Forgotten Letters and the Legacy of the Holocaust (2017), and most recently, with Avril Alba, Holocaust Memory and Racism in the Postwar World (2019).

Allen Packwood is the Director of the Churchill Archives Centre, home to the voluminous personal papers of Sir Winston Churchill, and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He is a qualified archivist and the author of the book How Churchill Waged War (Pen & Sword, 2018).

In 2016 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to archives and scholarship. He regularly gives public talks about the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill. He is a former Executive Director of ICS UK and is about to begin an important new international role for the Society.

Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre

The Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre is an initiative designed to make accessible the finest historical research. Founded in 2017 in memory of the late British historian and Churchill’s peerless chronicler, Sir Martin Gilbert, the Centre focuses on the subjects Sir Martin spent his life exploring: Modern Jewish History, the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars, and Winston Churchill.

It seeks to widen the reach of historical study and enable better understanding of the dynamic relationship between past, present, and future. The Centre offers a wide range of research-based lectures, courses and conversations, and also runs the Sir Martin Gilbert History prize, a competition for secondary school students to develop their skills as historians through scholarly engagement with primary sources.

Event Detail

Winston Churchill's Illnesses - Much More Than Survival

Tue 9 March, 17:00 (GMT)

 Allen Packwood, will talk to Dr Allister Vale and Dr John Scadding about their definitive new book Winston Churchill’s Illnesses 1886-1965. Churchill famously claimed that he did smoke, did drink and was two hundred per cent fit. In reality he came close to death several times and had to overcome some serious health problems.

Allister Vale is Consultant Clinical Pharmacologist and Toxicologist at City Hospital, Birmingham and holds an honorary chair in the University of Birmingham. He is a former Censor of the Royal College of Physicians and was awarded the President’s Medal. He has been elected President of professional societies in the UK, Europe and the US.
John Scadding is Honorary Consultant Neurologist Emeritus to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, and was formerly also its Medical Director and Chairman of its Medical Committee. He was Academic Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is Chairman of the Independent Medical Expert Group at the Ministry of Defence.

Allister Vale and John Scadding have published 17 medical papers on Churchill's illnesses and the recent book Winston Churchill's illnesses 1886-1965: Courage, Resilience, Determination. Barnsley: Frontline Books, 2020.

Churchill’s Daughters

Tue 23 March, 17:00 (GMT)

Allen Packwood will talk to Emma Soames, granddaughter of Sir Winston, and authors, Rachel Trethewey and Catherine Katz about the young women who supported their father. Winston and Clementine had four daughters, Diana, Sarah, Marigold (who sadly died in infancy) and Mary. What was it like to be one of the daughters of the most famous man in the world and to find yourself playing a role on the global stage? How did these very different sisters react to the pressures, what were their unique contributions and how should they be remembered?

Emma Soames (born 9th September 1949) is a British editor. She is the granddaughter of Winston Churchill. Soames was educated at three independent schools: at Laverock School in Oxted in Surrey, followed by Hamilton House School in Kent (both in South East England), followed by Queen's College (from 1965-66) in Harley Street in Central London.

Soames was a long-serving editor of the Telegraph magazine. She is now the editor-at-large of Saga magazine. Her brother is Nicholas Soames who was a Conservative minister of defence under Sir John Major.

Rachel Trethewey read History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where she won the Philip Geddes Prize for student journalism. She has an MA in Victorian Studies and a PhD in English from Exeter University.

During her career in journalism, Rachel wrote features for the Daily Express and Daily Mail and reviewed historical books for the Independent. She was Education correspondent at Westcountry Television. The Churchill Girls is Rachel’s fourth book. She lives in Devon.

Catherine Grace Katz is a writer and historian from Chicago. She graduated from Harvard in 2013 with a BA in History and received her MPhil in Modern European History from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge in 2014, where she wrote her dissertation on the origins of modern counterintelligence practices. After graduating, Catherine worked in finance in New York City before a very fortuitous visit to the bookstore in the lobby of her office in Manhattan led her to return to history and writing. She is currently pursuing her JD at Harvard Law School. The Daughters of Yalta is her first book.

Churchill’s Europe

Tue 13 April, 17:00 (BST)

Allen Packwood will talk to Professor Richard Toye and Mr Felix Klos about a subject that has reverberated throughout the Brexit debate. What was Churchill’s view on European union, did it change over time and what role did he envisage for Great Britain?

Richard Toye
Richard Toye is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He has published nineteen books, and is an expert on the life, career and reputation of Winston Churchill. In 2007 he won the Times Higher Education Young Academic Author of the Year Award for his book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness. His most recent monograph, Winston Churchill: A Life in the News (OUP, 2020) explores his journalism, his media image (and his efforts to control it), and the reception of news about him by ordinary readers and viewers. This builds on the approach Richard used in The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (OUP, 2013) which showed that Churchill’s oratory generated much more controversy and criticism than legend suggests. Richard has often appeared on TV and radio and has written for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Felix Klos is an American/Dutch historian, political scientist and author. Klos was educated at the University of Oxford, Lincoln college and Middlebury College Vt. His academic work has focused on European integration. During his studies he served as a Legislative Intern in the United States Senate and an International Office Intern for the progressive Dutch Liberal Democratic Party D66.

Klos is the author of Churchill on Europe: The Untold Story of Churchill's European Project (London, IB Tauris, June 2016) and Winston Churchill - Father of Europe (Amsterdam, 2016, Hollands Diep). In addition to the books Klos published a number of newspaper and magazine articles regarding Churchill's European legacy in the perspective of the UK EU referendum in June 2016.

Churchill’s Dramatic Legacy

Tue 27 April, 17:00 (BST)

Allen Packwood and Lord (Michael) Dobbs will discuss Churchill’s legacy on stage and screen. How do you bring a character like Winston Churchill to life for a new generation?

Michael Dobbs is an active member of the House of Lords, author of the original House of Cards and an authority on Winston Churchill.

He’s long had a ringside seat on history. He was with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she took her first steps into Downing Street, and was with John Major 18 years later when he was kicked out. He’s been variously described as ‘Westminster’s baby faced hitman’ and ‘a man who in Latin America would have been shot’.

He is a five-time Emmy award nominee, winner of multiple literary awards and the recipient of the International Churchill Society’s prestigious Blenheim Award for his novels and wide scholarship about Winston. A reviewer for The Times described one of his Churchill novels as being ‘the most compelling account of that great parliamentary occasion that I have ever read,’ while a member of the Churchill family says ‘he fills in the bits in between the history’.

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'What could be done for the Dardanelles campaign, and then for every subsequent controversy with which Churchill was involved (and there were far more than I had realized), was to explain exactly what he was trying to do, why he wanted to do it, how he set about it, and the way in which he confronted the various obstacles, whether of nature or of individuals, that were found along the way. I wanted to be able to establish the chain of events and circumstances within which he worked.'

— Sir Martin Gilbert

Sir Martin Gilbert
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Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge


sir winston churchill

Above all, my dear friend, do not be vexed or discouraged. We are on the stage of history.

October 1939: Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) British Statesman and Prime Minister (1940 - 1945, 1951 - 1955) reading a book at his home in Chartwell, Kent. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Learn more about 
Finest Hour magazine

The Journal of Winston Churchill

The Finest Hour  archive includes 190 issues. 

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Randolph Churchill

'It is truly uplifting that through your (Hillsdale Publishing's) dedication and support for completing the Churchill biography, it will stand as one of the great works of history, recording the truth faithfully and without judgement. Started by my grandfather, Randolph, it was taken on bravely by Martin Gilbert and his dedicated supporters, including his wife Susan and his widow, Lady Gilbert.'

Randolph Churchill, Great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill on the official biography.

Join Us for the

2021 Virtual Churchill Conference

8-10 October 2021

Join us for our International Churchill Conference, Churchill and Freedom, with special guests to be announced soon.  

Th online portions of this event is FREE of charge but you must register.

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.