July 3, 2022

Leading French Scholar on Life of Churchill


The International Churchill Society (ICS) received a double blow in June. In addition to the death of Catherine Churchill, members were grieved to learn of the death of Prof. Antoine Capet on June 2, 2022 in Rouen, France. Capet was not only the preeminent Churchill scholar in France, he was among the leading Churchill scholars in the world. His 2018 magnum opus, Churchill: Le Dictionnaire, ranks as “one of the best books ever written about the great Englishman.”

Internationally recognized as an eminent historian, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States, Prof. Capet’s works included Le Poids des années de guerre – les classes dirigeantes britanniques et la réforme sociale 1931–1951 (1992) and the biography of Montgomery, L’artiste des batailles (Perrin, 2014). He also published numerous translations including a two-volume version of Churchill’s Memoirs of the Great War, 1911–1915 (vol.1) and 1915–1918 (vol.2). With Dominique Boulonnais, he translated Conversations intimes, 1908–1964, correspondence between Winston Churchill and his wife Clémentine. All were published by Tallandier.

As a professor of British Studies at the University of Rouen, Capet trained generation after generation of students. Over the years, he succeeded in introducing students to recognized experts in all fields and publishing the proceedings in the journal that he edited with colleagues in Rouen, C.E.R.C.L.E.S. He was also President of the C.R.E.C.I.B. society and the editor of the Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique.

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In addition to his intense academic load, he both organized and participated in conferences that focused on Winston Churchill. He presented at the 2015 Churchill conference on the subject of French participation in the Dardanelles campaign, which was very significant but has scarcely ever received attention from historians in any language.

In addition to his conference activity, Capet contributed many feature articles and book reviews to Finest Hour, the journal of the International Churchill Society. He also served as one of the judges for the society’s 2020 “Inspire like Churchill” competition. As a member of the society’s Board of Academic Advisers, Capet was of invaluable assistance to scholars when it came to questions about Churchill involving all things French. His energy, kindness and dedication to English studies were matched only by his integrity and scientific rigor.

He is survived by his wife Chantal, their two children, and one grandchild.

Professor Catherine Marshall works at CY Cergy Paris Université.

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