By BARRY SINGER
While at school in Brighton, young Winston discovered concerts, pantomimes, and dancing (“I am learning dancing now and like it very much indeed”). He was taught cricket and began to play but preferred to ride horses. He also studied piano but begged to be allowed to learn the cello or the violin instead.
Classical music interested him very little—despite his mother’s own taste for the operas of Wagner and the piano duets of Beethoven and Schumann. Winston favored music hall tunes, for which he had a prodigious memory, or patter songs from the Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan that he loved to sing in his soft treble voice.
In October 1884, at the age of nearly ten, he wrote to his mother of “a lovely stamp-book and stamps” that he had bought. “Will you please send a little more money? he went on to ask. His principal childhood interests were thereby established. Henceforward, his letters would ask for more stamps, more toy soldiers, and more money.
Barry Singer is the author of Churchill Style (Abrams Image, 2012) and the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City.