Churchill drafted his speeches several times and wrote them out in a way that would help him deliver them effectively. He rehearsed passages, again and again, pacing his rooms, repeating them out loud, learning whole speeches by heart. He developed a unique oratorical style that both covered up and employed his speech difficulties so that his ‘lisp’ – or ‘stammer’, which could occasionally seem like a groping for words – became a prop, not a hindrance. Until old age, Churchill wrote every speech himself, usually by dictating to a secretary and then revising on the typed copy. He would then ask them to present the words on the page in ‘speech form’, in the style of a poem, with staggered lines and breaks in the text (referred to by others as ‘psalm style’), so that he could see at a glance where to pause, hesitate or add emphasis, when delivering the lines. He was a relentless reviser of his speeches – as he was with his books, too – and made numerous drafts. The final version would be retyped on smaller sheets, the size of notepaper, and even these would show last-minute changes to the text, with crossings-out and added scribbled words.
Away from the field of battle, Churchill’s risk-taking continued unabated. By January 1910, he was Home Secretary (his exploits in the war zones of the British Empire having succeeded in getting him into ‘the game of politics’) – and managed to engineer himself into the centre of the action.
‘The vastly publicized affair fortified Churchill’s … reputation for being far from a calm and judicious Home Secretary. He was perceived more as a trigger-happy boy scout, or at best a junior officer, who wished to behave in the streets of London as though he was still with the Malakand Field Force or on the armoured train in Natal.’
Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography
Churchill died in 1965 and yet his name – and his legacy – lives on, in the educational organisations that he established in his lifetime and in the initiatives set up after his death, to promote excellence, innovation and leadership in education and research in science, technology, health and welfare and the arts. Churchill cared passionately about the future of his country and believed strongly in the importance of education and research in securing success and leadership in the years ahead.
The privilege of a university education is a great one; the more widely it is extended the better for any country.
Churchill, 12 May 1948, University of Oslo
For much of the war, Churchill lived not at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the Prime Minister, but in ‘the Annexe’, a building nearby in Whitehall. Underneath this, were the Cabinet War Rooms (now a museum called the Churchill War Rooms) – a ‘bunker’ – where he and his government were protected from the worst the German bombers could rain down on London.
He spent a lot of his time here in meetings (although he only ever slept in the bedroom on three occasions), and ran it on ‘Winston time’; colleagues were expected to adapt to his way of working, staying up late at night to respond to his demands for updates on the war situation, analyzing reports and taking instructions (often with ‘Action this Day’ labels attached).