September 30, 2021

Celia Sandys remembers her grandfather

Celia Sandys, Churchill’s Little Redhead, Fonthill Medial, 2021, 224 pages, £25. ISBN 978–1781558553

Review by Jane Williams

The author of this excellent and deeply absorbing autobiography, Celia Sandys, tells us the compelling tale of her life as a granddaughter of Winston Churchill. Born in 1943 in the middle of the Second World War, Celia vividly describes not only her own travels and adventures throughout—literally—the world but she also gives the most erudite descriptions of her grandfather’s journeys going back over his long life. Churchill’s time in India, Pakistan, South and East Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Cuba, Canada, Italy, Madeira, and the South of France are all covered in detail.

Winston Churchill was devoted to his family. He was a loving and generous father and grandfather. If it were feasible, he liked to be accompanied by a family member on his numerous worldwide travels. Celia describes how, from an early age, she found herself to be that loved and fortunate “family member.” She tells us of a pilgrimage in her grandfather’s footsteps, a re-living of history.

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It is a well known fact that there have been over a thousand biographies of Churchill. Here Celia gives us a deeply moving description of Churchill’s humanity and his generosity of spirit in situations “every day” and “world wide.” He called Celia his “little redhead” as he watched her in childhood playing in the gardens of his beloved home, Chartwell, with its views across the Weald of Kent. Chartwell was the house he had bought in 1922 and which was to be his home from 1924, the centre of his family life, and a hub of both activity and tranquillity.

Celia admits that as a result of her birth she has been given many opportunities and privileges. Above all the presence in her life of her grandfather Winston Churchill is a source of adventures that has filled her heart with joy and wonder. She invites us all to share these insights, and I would strongly advise the reader to do so.

Lady Williams of Elvel worked as a secretary for Winston Churchill from 1949 to 1955 and is an honorary member of the International Churchill Society.

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