Churchill’s younger brother, Jack, was born in 1880 when Churchill was five. They saw little of their parents, and both of them were looked after by a nanny. Mrs Everest (she was, in fact, a spinster; the ‘Mrs’ was an honorary title) was hired when Winston was only a few months old. The children led a peripatetic life, often travelling with her from their home in Ireland (the ‘Little Lodge’, where the Churchills lived when his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, became Viceroy of Ireland), to the Isle of Wight, to Blenheim and to London.
Churchill was enormously fond of Mrs Everest and called her ‘Woom’ or ’Woomany’. She exerted a considerable influence on him throughout his childhood until she died when he was a young man of twenty-one (he was devastated by her death, and arranged for the erection of a headstone on her grave and paid an annual sum for its upkeep thereafter, a practice which has been continued to this day by The Churchill Centre and the Churchill family). For more about Churchill and his nanny, see the National Churchill Museum site.
Churchill’s younger brother, Jack, was born in 1880 when Churchill was five. They saw little of their parents and both of them were looked after by a nanny. Mrs Everest (she was, in fact, a spinster; the ‘Mrs’ was an honorary title) was hired when Winston was only a few months old.
The children led a peripatetic life, often travelling with her from their home in Ireland (the ‘Little Lodge’, where the Churchills lived when his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, became Viceroy of Ireland), to the Isle of Wight, to Blenheim and to London.
Andrew Roberts is the author of many books, including, most recently, the major new biography Napoleon. His next book will be a full-scale biography of Churchill. This article is adapted from his speech to the 33rd International Churchill Conference in Washington, D. C., 29 October 2016
The concept of the British stiff upper lip was invented by the Victorians, and was especially prevalent in the upper classes, where it was considered infra dig to show one’s emotions openly. It was widely believed that the British Empire itself depended on the capacity of officers and gentlemen to rise above their natural human emotions and stay calm and collected, regardless of whatever appalling thing was happening. The very centre of that British belief-system was to be found in the British Army.
In earlier periods tearfulness did not imply a lack of manliness or self-control. At Admiral Horatio Nelson’s funeral in January 1806, for example, every single one of the eight admirals who carried the coffin down the Nave of St Paul’s Cathedral was in tears, as were at least half of the all-male congregation. Regency men were not expected to have to control their emotions in the way that their Victorian grandsons and great-grandsons were.
Yet there was one Victorian upper-class British Army officer and gentleman who cried in public to such an extraordinary extent that it was remarked upon on so many occasions that we need to regard him instead as a Regency figure born out of his time. Winston Churchill was a man of such powerful emotions, with
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