In fact, Churchill was more than ready for retirement. Only a year after his resignation, days before his eighty-second birthday, he finally admitted that he was not the man he was; he could not be Prime Minister now. Only a week after his last cabinet meeting, he and Clemmie went on holiday to Syracuse.
I am not the man I was. I could not be Prime Minister now.
Churchill to Lord Moran, 26 November 1956 (cited in Langworth Churchill: In His Own Words)
Even though he was not the man he was, and despite his failing health, Churchill began his ‘retirement’ with some of his old vigour and energy. For an elderly man, he was remarkably resilient and determined. He embarked on holidays, painting tours and new writing projects.
The first two volumes of his History of the English Speaking Peoples were published in 1956 and the remaining two volumes over the next two years; quite an achievement for a man in his eighties, even with the help of various historians and research assistants.
As well as painting and writing, he devoted his energies to supporting causes that would improve Britain’s standing in the world. If he couldn’t do it through politics, he could do it through education. See Parliament’s collection of parliamentary archive material on Churchill’s retirement, death and lying-in-state.
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