Erica and Hilda Bingham Finest Hour 86, Spring 1995
ROBERT Somervell M.A. (Cantab), the eldest of six sons and three daughters, was born at Kendal, Cumberland on 29 September 1851. He died at Sevenoaks, Kent in 1933, three years after being cited by his 56-year-old former student, Winston Churchill, as the man who taught him that most precious heritage, the English language.
His, mother, Anne Wilson, married Robert Miller Somervell in 1849. The elder Somervell, at the age of 21, started his own business as a leather merchant in Kendal in 1842, travelling many miles selling all over England to shoemakers. Before Robert, the eldest son, was born, his father joined with a brother to form a business.
Why did Winston Churchill exhibit his paintings under the name of a real painter only recently deceased?
The first public exhibition of Churchill’s paintings was held in Paris in 1921 at the Galerie Druet, a famous and important establishment at 20 rue Royale, specializing in Post-Impressionist painters of the early 20th century. The paintings were shown under the pseudonym of Charles Morin, and six were sold.
This is the story, though the surrounding facts are curious. First, the gallery archives contain no reference to the exhibition, and second, Charles Morin was the name of a real French painter, who died in 1919. Read More >
Remarks at the 1987 International Churchill Conference, Dallas, first published in Proceedings of the International Churchill Society 1987, reprinted in Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03. ________________________________________________________
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, Mrs. Reves, Ladies and Gentlemen. I must first thank my hosts for the wonderful arrangements they’ve made for me, all the comfort and pleasure they’re giving me, and for having me here. And I must thank you all for your generous hospitality and the way in which you greet me. You make me feel as if you’re all my friends and you bring a very warm corner into my heart. Read More >
Ms. Alberigi chaired two Churchill Conferences and was a director of the International Churchill Society from 1988 through 1995. This article appeared in Finest Hour 85, Winter 1994-95.
For more than forty years Sir Winston Churchill found contentment in his painting pastime. The hobby he had begun on a lark one summer afternoon proved to be his constant companion until the final years of his life. Yet, as important as it was to him, this fascinating aspect of his life remained relatively unknown for years. Gradually, not the least through publication of his 1921 essay, Painting As a Pastime, in book form in 1948, people realized that he was a prolific and talented painter. One accepts the concept of a statesman painting as a hobby but few expect to admire the results of his efforts. As in so many things, Churchill was an exception.
Churchill hesitated to seek public appraisals of his art. The first public exhibition of his paintings was under an assumed name, Charles Morin,1 in France. The pseudonym eliminated the prejudice that would derive from his own name, ensuring that evaluations were neither too solicitous nor, perhaps, too unkind. Years later, he sent his first submission to the Royal Academy under another pseudonym. Finally, his confidence developed, he exhibited under his name, although only a few major shows were held in his lifetime.
How does one objectively evaluate the art of a famous statesman? One may study the reviews and comments of acknowledged art experts and other artists to form a more complete impression of his artistic talents. One can also consider the art institutions that have displayed his paintings or made them part of their permanent collections – the Royal Academy and the Tate Gallery, London; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Museum of Art in Sao Paolo, Brazil; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His association with these prestigious organizations gives credibility to Churchill’s work as an artist.
The Hot Pursuit of his Other Hobby By: Barbara F. Langworth (Finest Hour Issue 72)
l T- T E rides in the game like heavy cavalry getting XJL into position for the assault. He trots about, keenly watchful, biding his time, a matter of tactics and strategy. Abruptly he sees his chance, and he gathers his pony and charges in, neither deft nor graceful, but full of tearing physical energy — and skillful with it too. He bears down opposition by the weight of his dash, and strikes the ball. Did I say strike? He slashes the ball.”
Thus Patrick Thompson, a contemporary writer, compared “Churchill’s angle in life” to his game of polo. An apt comparison it was, for Churchill loved the sport, which he always called “The Emperor of Games.”
From obscure beginnings in the Orient, the modern version of polo was developed in 1863 by British army officers stationed in the Punjab, India; they had learned the game from the Manipuri, an Indian border tribe. Six years later, polo was introduced in England.
Churchill first mentions polo in a letter to his father, seeking permission to ride in September 1893, shortly after young Winston had arrived at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. But soon after, he wrote to his mother, “I find that you do not have to obtain permission from home to ride — but only to play polo — so the Infantry cadet will be allowed to ride for amusement until next term when all are taught.” From this it seems that he was not planning to participate in polo at that time, despite its availability. This is contrary to Volume I of the official biography, which states that Winston had “started to play . . . whilst still a cadet at Sandhurst.” But no subsequent Churchill letters mention polo until February 1894 when he refers to it in an aside: “Besides the crusade against extravagance — they have stopped hunting — polo — and owning horses.”
Churchill had taken the entrance exam for Sandhurst three times before he passed. His final test score was too low for him to be accepted in the Infantry and qualified him only for the Cavalry — a great disappointment to his father, who remarked, 1 ‘In the infantry one has to keep a man; in the cavalry a man and a horse as well.” ‘ ‘Little did he foresee not only one horse, but two official chargers and one or two hunters besides,” Churchill recalled later, “to say nothing of the string of polo ponies!”
He learned species by name and liked to watch colorful varieties emerge from their chrysalides, freeing them at once.
Mr. Newman operated a butterfly farm founded by his father, L.W. Newman, author of The Text Book of British Lepidoptera. Together they supplied Churchill with numerous native species before and after World War II. This article first appeared in Audobon Magazine in 1965, and was reprinted by permission in Finest Hour 89, Winter 1995-96.
This is Winston Churchill speaking,” the voice on the telephone said. “I have just read an article in the magazine Good Gardening entitled ‘Stock Your Garden with Butterflies.’ I found it most interesting.”
The voice that all the world was soon to know continued – deep, cultured and polite in a decisive sort of way. It was the spring of 1939, a busy season at my father’s butterfly farm at Bexley, Kent, and Mr. Churchill wanted to know more about our butterflies and our business.
“I should like some butterflies to liberate in my garden at Chartwell,” he continued. “May I come and see your butterfly farm and discuss a plan?”
I turned to my father, L.W. Newman, who was sitting at his desk nearby. Placing my hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, I whispered, “It’s Winston Churchill on the line. Do you want to show him around the farm?”
“Of course I do,” my father replied, “if he’s really interested. Here, pass me the phone.”
Immediately Mr. Churchill recognized the voice of authority on butterflies, and for quite a long time they talked – Mr. Churchill listening while my father told him something of the aims and objects of our unique profession. Before Mr. Churchill rang off, a date had been arranged for his visit to our establishment.
“If today [Kaiser Wilhelm II] occupies in old age the most splendid situation in Europe, let him not forget that he might well have found himself eating the bitter bread of exile, a dethroned sovereign and a broken man loaded with unutterable reproach. And this, we repeat, might well have been his fate, if Lee had not won the Battle of Gettysburg.”
Memoirs of Churchill’s Private Secretary, 1940-1955
By SIR JOHN COLVILLE CB CVO Sir John Colville, known as “Jock” (1915-1987), was an English civil servant who served three prime ministers: Chamberlain, Churchill and Attlee. He was assistant private secretary to Churchill in 1940-41 and 1943-45 and joint principal private secretary in 1951-55. His diaries, Fringes of Power, are a standard primary source. These remarks were delivered at the Pinafore Room, Savoy Hotel, London, on 22 May 1983 during the First Churchill Tour, conducted by the then-International Churchill Society. Read More >
“Churchill exercised one of his most important functions as war leader by holding military calculations and assertions up to the standards of a massive common sense, informed by wide reading and experience at war….His uneasy relationship with his generals stemmed, in large part, from his willingness to pick commanders who disagreed with him—and who often did so violently.”
Eliot A. Cohen
This paper was presented at the 1993 International Churchill Conference in Washington, D.C., and has been updated in a few places to reflect developments and publications since. Dr. Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Read More >
ABSTRACT An Address at the Boston Athenaeum, May 6th
Fifty years and five weeks ago tonight, Winston Churchill addressed a distinguished Boston symposium a few blocks away at M.I.T., where they had convened to consider the science and technology of the second half of the century. “I frankly confess that I feel somewhat overawed in addressing this vast scientific and learned audience,” Churchill said. “I have no technical and no university education, and have just had to pick up a few things as I went along.”1
“When You Care Enough”: Joyce Hall and Hallmark’s Churchill Connection
By Philip and Susan Larson
Years ago the Larsons, who chaired our 2006 Chicago conference, purchased a box of Hallmark Christmas cards adorned with Churchill paintings, and other Hallmark items bearing his art. Whence the pairing of Churchill and Hallmark? They set out to learn the story.
The unassuming Midwesterner who first presented the art of Winston Churchill to the American people was Joyce C. Hall of Kansas City, who with his brothers built the internationally renowned Hallmark Greeting Card Company, known by one of the most famous slogans in advertising: “When you care enough to send the very best.” Hall, who preferred to be known as “J.C.,” exposed Americans to a new side of the statesman he so respected—a side few previously knew existed—through greeting cards, books, exhibitions and television.
J.C. Hall was a graduate Churchillian. His appreciation for Sir Winston was summarized on the jacket of Hallmark’s book Never Give In!: “He was the unquenchable voice of freedom… [his] wisdom extended beyond the pressing problems of peace and war.” Read More >
By Dr. John Maurer, Chair, Strategy and Policy Department, Naval War College
Winston Churchill served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative government during the late 1920s. His goal as Chancellor was to renew Britain’s power in the world by reviving the British economy. His economic policies brought him into conflict with the leaders of Britain’s Royal Navy, who wanted to undertake an expensive buildup of British naval strength to balance against the rising power of Japan. In this article, John Maurer examines how Churchill sought to manage and reconcile the risks facing Britain in the economic sphere, in domestic politics, and in the international strategic environment. The article forms part of a larger study on which I have been working about Churchill and the decline of British power. Read More >
The Rt Hon Sir Winston Spencer Churchill Society of British Columbia Annual Banquet Friday 13th June 2008
by Admiral The Lord Boyce GCB, OBE, DL
President, members of the WSC Society of British Columbia, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Very many thanks for your kind and generous introduction.
May I start by saying many thanks for the superb dinner we have enjoyed this evening; I am sure everyone would want to join me in congratulating the team here at the Vancouver Club for looking after us so well.
And may I go on to say many thanks for the marvellous welcome Fleur and I have had. It really could not have been friendlier and it certainly brings back happy memories to me of the couple of times I have previously visited Canada – although not to Vancouver, so this is a most pleasant experience. And I know it is already making an indelible impression on Fleur who is on her first visit to your beautiful country.
Ladies & Gentlemen, when I was kindly asked to come and speak at your Society’s Annual Banquet, I do not think I fully appreciated what I had agreed to undertake – but that became very clear when I received a copy of the ‘Heroic Memory’. My heart sank as my eyes ran down the list of my illustrious predecessors, all of whom seem to have had some personal knowledge of Winston Churchill to judge by their excellent renditions – which made my heart sink even lower as I read them, for I make absolutely no claim to be a Churchill scholar, nor have I any personal connections with him, nor any forebears who had. So to say that I am daunted as I stand before this knowledgeable gathering is putting it mildly. I hope, at the end of my contribution his evening, you are not minded to recall with a rueful sigh WSC’s words on being asked by a young MP whether or how he might have put more fire into his speech. WSC: “What you should have done was put the speech in the fire”.
I suppose, however, I have got something going for me in that I have, in a small way, followed in some of Churchill’s footsteps.
I have been a member of the Admiralty Board, and presided over the Navy Board (the Executive Arm of the former) as First Sea Lord, sitting in the same chair as he would have used as First Lord of the Admiralty in the historic Admiralty Board Room in Whitehall; and like him, no doubt, admired the famous 300 year old Grinling Gibbons carvings around the fireplace; and been distracted by musing over what sort of decisions may have been driven by the great wind indicator as our predecessors sat in that same room in the C18th and C19th in the days of sail. Incidentally we no longer have a First Lord as such, as the Admiralty Board is now presided over by the Secretary of State for Defence – as he does over the Army and Air Force Boards.
Then I go on to reflect that, like me, Churchill was an Elder Brother of Trinity House – an honour he assumed in 1913 when he was First Lord for the first time.
Trinity House is an ancient fraternity which obtained its charter from King Henry V111 in 1514 – primarily “to act for the relief, increase and augmentation of the shipping of this realm of England” – and today is still the lead authority for safe navigation around the shores of England, responsible for all light houses and buoyage; and is also a leading world authority in this area. WSC was enormously proud of his Elder Brother uniform and greatly enjoyed wearing it on ceremonial occasions and, indeed, wore it when he accompanied the Naval Division (which he had been largely responsible for forming) when it went to try to relieve Antwerp in the First World War. And you will also have seen him wearing his Trinity House cap in the famous picture sitting down talking to Franklin D. Roosevelt on board HMS Prince of Wales in 1941 – a picture caught in the life-size sculpture of them in the same pose that can be found in Bond Street in London.
He was proud too to wear his Royal Yacht Squadron cap that one sees in many pictures with his double-breasted naval looking coat because he was, as I am, an honorary member of the Squadron.
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Timeline PhotosPrime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry Truman and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin shake hands after the meeting during the Potsdam Conference, on this day in 1945. Code-named TERMINAL, this was the final ‘Big Three’ meeting of the war.
The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.
At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.