By BARRY SINGER
The flooring of Winston Churchill’s second-floor study at Chartwell deliberately resembled the timbers of a ship’s quarterdeck. Here was the engine room of his literary output, the nerve center where he paced before a crude wooden stand-up desk made by a local carpenter, dictating until late at night. “Do come see my factory,” Churchill announced to visitors.
“Once when I was there alone,” a new resident secretary, Grace Hamblin, would later remember, “and he brought someone in and said, ‘This is my factory. This is my secretary.’ Then a pause. ‘And to think I once commanded the Fleet.’”
In 1934 Churchill dictated and published fifty articles while delivering more than twenty major political speeches in Parliament and elsewhere. The speeches dealt largely with Nazi tyranny and the futility of Britain’s disarmament.
“I am afraid if you look into what is moving towards our Great Britain,” he maintained in a BBC broadcast on November 16, “you will see that the only choice open is the old grim choice our forbearers had to face, namely, whether we shall submit or whether we shall prepare.”
Barry Singer is the author of Churchill Style (Abrams Image, 2012) and the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City.