The late Lady Thatcher was an honorary member of The Churchill Centre and recipient of of the Centre’s Churchill Leadership Award. The Chartwell Bulletin invited distinguished political biographer John Campbell to review the newest installment in the official biography of the Iron Lady.
Just three years after her death, Margaret Thatcher ranks second only to Churchill as the towering figure of twentieth century Britain. The second instalment of Charles Moore’s monumental official biography—now projected to take three volumes—is very different from the first, but equally good. Whereas most of the first volume followed her early life and her remarkable journey from provincial Lincolnshire to Number Ten Downing Street, this one covers just five years—the central five years of her decade in power—so that it deals almost entirely with the business of government, since Mrs. Thatcher had no other interests and allowed herself virtually no time off. Lacking the clear biographical structure of a formative beginning or a mortal end, this middle chunk of her life could easily have been a shapeless and indigestible chronicle of events. That it is not, but grips the attention for 700 pages, is due to three things: the historic scale of the issues she had to deal with, Moore’s skill in drawing together a truly enormous range of public and private sources, and the hyperactive and commanding personality of the Prime Minister herself. Read More >
Churchill Papers Added to World Memory Register
Winston Churchill’s vast archive has been added to UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Memory of the World Project in 1992 as an international initiative to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and wilful and deliberate destruction. It calls for the preservation of valuable archive, library, and private collections all over the world. Read More >
Churchill and a “Black Dog” Centenary Letter
By WILFRED ATTENBOROUGH
Some historians have suggested that too much has been made of Churchill’s “so-called depression,” otherwise known as his “black dog.” But what did Churchill himself have to say about his mental health? In writing, very little, despite his immense output as journalist, author and private-letter writer. Nevertheless, from his fragmentary disclosures a great deal emerges which is, without question, far from a complete endorsement of Received Opinion on Churchill’s black dog depression. This is particularly evident in one of the many letters he sent to his wife Clementine while serving as a battalion commander on the Western Front during the First World War one hundred years ago this winter. In a letter dated 28 January 1916, Churchill’s includes the following caution: Read More >
Donald Rumsfeld Helps Launch “Diabolical” Mobile App;
Joint Venture Brings Card Game to the Public for Charity
One of Winston Churchill’s secret diversions during the Second World War is being revived for the twenty-first century, the makers of a new mobile gaming app have announced. Dubbed Churchill Solitaire and called “the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised” by its makers, the game has been approved by and licensed from the Churchill estate. Churchill Heritage Ltd. represents the Churchill family for the use of Sir Winston’s name and image in commercial endeavors, with the monies raised being distributed to good causes associated with his life and legacy. Read More >
Luxury Yacht for Sale Wrongly Reported as Churchill’s
The story broke in mid-January that a luxury yacht offered for sale in France at the asking price of €2 million was originally commissioned by Winston Churchill in 1936. News organizations around the world picked up and carried the claim without providing any proof that the boat was once owned by Churchill. The Churchill Centre quickly moved to investigate the story knowing that Churchill never owned a yacht in his life.
All versions of the story report that the 127-foot boat was built by Thornycroft Shipyard in 1936 to Churchill’s own specifications and features and on-board bar that he personally ordered. Reportedly the vessel was initially called Amazone when it was supposedly owned by Churchill but was renamed by subsequent owners first as Welsh Liberty and then My Evangeline before being given back its original name. The current owner states that she purchased the yacht from a “luxury gangster.”
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Q & A with Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre
The Chartwell Bulletin recently discussed with Allen Packwood (above left at Blenheim Palace with Finest Hour editor David Freeman) his responsibilities as Director of an archive that houses the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and three other British prime ministers along with hundreds of their contemporaries.
CB: How did you come to be Director of the Churchill Archives Centre?
AP: By luck! I have always been interested in history, and did an MPhil in Medieval History at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. I started volunteering in the muniment room and got hooked on working with archives. That led to yet another post graduate qualification (at which point my parents despaired of me ever earning a living) followed by three years in a local government archive, before Piers Brendon was foolish enough to employ me as an archivist working on the Churchill Papers here at the Archives Centre. The rest, as they say, is history, but that it is literally true in this case—and the most interesting history at that!
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