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Churchill did not begin painting until his fortieth year, but his family background and his own talents and temperament provide many clues and pointers as to how and why he made a success of it when he eventually did pick up a paintbrush. Yet as with many aspects of his life and career, Churchill’s artistic endeavours need to be set and understood in a broader context. As a soldier in India, he had devoted his leisure hours to playing polo and to reading as many learned books as he could get his hands on. Had he been less focused on horses and belated self- improvement, he might equally have taken up painting, because this was something that many soldiers did. As Churchill had already discovered at Sandhurst, learning to draw, and to appreciate terrain and topography from a military point of view, were essential parts of an officer’s training, while the long days of leisure, often spent in unfamiliar and picturesque imperial locations, encouraged many soldiers to take up their sketchbooks or paintbrushes to help while away the time. One such soldier- artist had been the American general and president Ulysses S. Grant, who began painting while a cadet at West Point during the early 1840s; another was General Lord Rawlinson, with whom Churchill would go on a canvas- covering holiday in France in March 1920. During the Second World War, several high- ranking military men on the Allied side were painters, including Generals Eisenhower, Auchinleck and Alexander (and Eisenhower would complete a portrait of Churchill, from photographs, during his presidency). As a soldier- turned- artist, Churchill was neither unusual nor unique: but he was a better artist, and became more famous than any of his contemporary practitioners.
Someone in a maid’s uniform took me up a flight of stairs to a light and spacious drawing room. Mrs Pamela Churchill, Winston’s mother, sat at one end of a long white sofa. She wore a deep blue dress made from a silky material that rustled as she moved. Winston was there too, sitting on the floor, doing something with a comic. He looked exactly the same as he did at school: messy and awkward with his pencil, he made funny noises through his nose when he breathed. His mother was beautiful, really beautiful, calm and poised, smoking a cigarette. “You must be Jonathan,” she said. And then, quite shortly after that “The car will be here very soon”.
Major Imogen Corrigan writes: It should not be construed that women were immediately involved in manning searchlights during the Second World War (1939-45). In fact this was not to happen until the Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s approval was gained in September 1941.1 Men were increasingly needed for deployment elsewhere so the options were either to reduce the number of lights, a measure General Sir Frederick Pile (General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Anti-Aircraft Command 1939-1945) considered irresponsible beyond belief, or to consider employing women already serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). By using the ATS and Home Guard it was estimated that 71,000 Regular Gunners could be used on other duties. Inevitably there was anxiety about how the ATS girls would cope, often miles from anywhere on bleak sites with potentially dangerous work to do. In fact these fears proved groundless as General Pile noted: ‘They showed themselves more effective, more horror-inspiring and more blood-thirsty with their pick-helves than many a male sentry with his gun, as several luckless gentlemen found to their cost.’2Read More >
To answer frequently asked questions, we publish the rules governing copyright to Sir Winston Churchill’s works.
1. Non-Commercial Use
The copyright in Sir Winston Churchill’s papers, literary works and those papers of which he was the author, did not form part of the recent purchase by the British Government, but remains (under the terms of Sir Winston’s will) the property of the heirs to his Literary Estate, except where it has been separately assigned. No charge is made in the case of reproduction for private academic research, not for publication. Certain charitable or non-profit organisations such as The Churchill Centre may be granted the right to reproduce (with acknowledgement) copyright material free of charge.
The author (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor and Founder of The Churchill Centre. This is a sequel to “A Churchill Library on a Budget,” which appeared in Finest Hour 42 in 1984.
People often ask my partner, Mark Weber, or me what it costs to own a complete set of Winston Churchill’s books. The answer is: between $1500/£1000 and well over $100,000/£67,000, depending on the varieties, editions and conditions desired. Then, if you can find them, add another $100,000 for first editions of the two rare, probable vanity press productions, Mr. Brodrick’s Army and For Free Trade. (You might have to add even more; the last Brodrick sale I know of was in 1999 for $75,000/£50,000.) And this is for books not inscribed by our author. Read More >
In this issue we do something we’ve never done before. We move “Books, Arts & Curiosities” to the “front of the book.” This is not to give undue attention to Nicholson Baker’s and Pat Buchanan’s simultaneous attack-books, but to equip our readers with facts that support Churchill’s honor, judgment and good name—and to demonstrate how easily history may be bent.
Professor Freeman teaches history at California State University, Fullerton.
Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, by Patrick J. Buchanan. New York, Crown, 518 pp., $29.95.
Although there is no indication in this book that Pat Buchanan is familiar with the work of the late Harry Elmer Barnes,1 he has nevertheless arrived at many of the same arguments that Barnes first pressed more than fifty years ago. His book is, then, the latest entry in the revisionist canon, recycling old arguments, and using time-worn tactics so familiar that The Churchill Centre long ago added a website section devoted to ‘Leading Churchill Myths’.
Churchill, The Greatest Briton Unmasked, by Nigel Knight.
David & Charles, 400 pp., $23.80.
Review by Michael McMenamin
I think it was Carlyle who wrote that “No book that will not improve by repeated readings deserves to be read at all.” That pretty much sums up Nigel Knight’s new book on Churchill. If you want to read a book on Churchill that is unreservedly negative on almost all aspects of his career, pick up Clive Ponting’s biography instead. Or even David Irving’s. Really. You’ll thank me for it.
Professor Kimball, Treat Professor of History at Rutgers University, has written extensively on Roosevelt and Churchill and is editor of three volumes of their correspondence.
Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, by Nicholson Baker. Simon & Schuster, 576 pp, $25.
OK. I have forced myself to sit down and write a review of the non-book. What is it? Why is it so difficult to review? I finally realized that it is not possible critically to review a mantra: an unthinking chant, like prayer wheels, rosaries and worry beads. Monotonous repetition may be an effective appeal, but it is an appeal to emotion, not reason. It is not history.
Mr. Roberts is an historian whose most recent book is A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 (FH 134). This article is derived by the author from reviews in The New Criterion and The Evening Standard .
When Randolph Churchill began work on his father’s biography in 1961, he had at his disposal an estimated 15 tons of paper — his father’s personal archive, now at Churchill College, Cambridge. In 1962, when I joined his research team, Randolph had already begun to search out yet more material. Read More >
Churchill’s biographers have never overlooked his books, finding in them a source as indispensable as it is irresistible. Yet they are apter to plunder them for an incident or a turn of phrase than to reflect on his life as a writer. Churchill’s deeds have eclipsed the shelf full of books he wrote, which most biographers treat simply as a lucrative diversion from politics. Though William Manchester begins his second volume of biography (“The Last Lion,” 1988) with an evocative description of Churchill’s manner of writing at Chartwell in the 1930s, and the official biography (particularly in its companion volumes) affords glimpses of Churchill’s literary life that are nowhere else available, fuller accounts are few. Maurice Ashley’s Churchill as Historian (1968) and Manfred Weidhorn’s Sword and Pen: A Survey of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill (1974) are the best general studies, which have now been joined by Frederick Woods’ Artillery of Words: The Writings of Sir Winston Churchill (1992) and this fine new book by Keith Alldritt. Read More >
In declaring Winston Churchill an Honorary Citizen of the United States, President Kennedy said (quoting Ed Murrow), “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” The President was referring in particular to 1940, but Churchill’s stimulating use of his native language was constant throughout his long and distinguished life. Language has two forms, written and spoken. Churchill was a master of both. As a journalist, essayist, author, novelist, historian, biographer, editor, correspondent, communicator, conversationalist and speaker he had few equals in any one of those fields, much less all of them. He has been described as a law unto himself in his use of words, as in so many other matters. Read More >
A complete list (arranged by date) of Churchill’s 43 book-length works in 72 volumes, published over the course of his lifetime (1874-1965) and posthumously. When titles are divided by a slashmark, the second title is the American, the first the English.
Bibliographic numbers are from Frederick Woods’s Bibliography of the Works of Sir Winston Churchill (Second revised edition, St. Paul’s Bibliographies, Winchester, England 1979). A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill, by Richard Langworth identifies through profuse illustrations and descriptive text the various English and foreign editions, and appraise their value and aesthetic desirability. Read More >
Longmans, Green & Co., New York (First Edition), London & Bombay, 1900
First published in Churchill By His Contemporaries in 1953 and reprinted in Finest Hour 38, Winter 1982-83
When Churchill found time to write a novel of some 70,000 words between The Story of the Malakand Field Force and The River War, which would be a surprising statement about almost anybody except Churchill, he was in his 24th year. Savrola offers an opportunity to pry into the dreams of a young man of destiny, not merely about his own political future but also that of dictators.
The scene is a Mediterranean republic where President Antonio Molara is ruling the country in a manner reminiscent of the Metaxas dictatorship in Greece. However, under the leadership of Savrola, a well-bred young Democrat, the National Party is on the up and up. In the inevitable confrontation, Molara enlists his beautiful wife Lucile to compromise Savrola. But Lucile falls in love with the hero, saves his life in a confrontation with a by-now doubly enraged President, and Savrola rallies the forces who overthrow the tyrant. Savrola himself is set upon by a “Secret Society” (thinly disguised Socialists) led by the demonic Kreutz, a sort of prototype Trotsky. Savrola and Lucile escape into exile, Churchill says they eventually return, but no further account of their later adventures, or indeed any other nonfiction books, emerge from his pen.
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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.