Winston Churchill PM and Polymath

Winston Churchill PM (Prime Minister) and Polymath, 50 years after his death and state funeral, the life and work of Winston is almost as controversial and in some ways more so than when he was alive, if that could be possible. Few men or women can have had such a profound experience of and impact on any century,

  • VE Day 1945 King George VI Speech
  • Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911
  • Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy
  • Constitutional Crisis People's Budget 1909
  • Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective
  • Winston Churchill Doctor's letter requiring alcohol for recovery

“Let us learn our lessons. Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth or easy, or that anyone who embarks on he strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”
Winston Churchill in his highly respected own account My Early Life 

This by a man who would witness and be involved in the Boer and two World Wars. He maybe gone but in our collective memory he is certainly not forgotten. Marking this considerable anniversary as part of our Prime Ministers List within Intriguing People here is our collection focusing on a few strands of a rich life and sharing some of the best resources we find along the way.

We are concentrating on the life and character of the man, his irascible and intriguing nature and his vast array of polymorphic interests, skills and demonstrations of those capabilities across a long rich life where he touched many lives and continues to do so. To trace his interest in innovation, science and technology and his view of some of the intriguing people he met and engaged with and what he thought of them and they of Winston. Our aim is a polymorphic collection to celebrate a life across the breadth of all his activities and fields of interest, embracing the good, the bad and the ugly, the successes and failures and inevitably his own texts provide more than a few quotations. This collection will feature video and audio artefacts which hopefully you will enjoy as much as we do. A true icon of the 20th Century and a rare particpant in the Boer and two world wars, there cannot be many men or women to rival such a varied life. Our starting points are digital portraits and reflections of that life from varied points of view, his relationships, opinions and commentary on other actors in the events he participated in and a lifelong interest in science, technology and innovation.

VE Day 1945 King George VI Speech

VE Day 1945 King George VI Speech

VE Day 1945 King George VI Speech an inspired reading at this week’s service in Westminster Abbey commemorating the end of WW2 in Europe VE Day on 8th May. Did you hear the The King’s Speech, how much does a national act of commemoration provide a timely reminder of the need to give back and participate and not just leave it all to the political class?

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

Winston Churchill as Home Secretary 1911, dressed in Top Hat it could be mistaken for a scene from the Silent movies but find out what happened and decide for yourself was it ‘over-the-top’ for Winston to be there and to call in Artillery?

Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy

Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy

Appeasement Policy, why did it have any credibility in Neville Chamberlain’s eyes? Could he really believe Hitler wanted peace and when it did unravel was he really surprised and ill-prepared? Would Churchill have handled this period any better and with the position Britain found itself in at that particular point could Churchill really have fared any better by outright confrontation before 3rd Sept 1939?

Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909

Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909

What would cause a king to contemplate the end of the Monarchy and that his son might be the last King? When his Barons, the Lords would rise-up and revolt against the rule of democracy and seek to reinvent the will of the people via its commons from being fulfilled. Lloyd George and Winston Churchill would be the advocates for the poor and common man. Asquith would seek to calm the rage and the King would plead with the Lords to let the Bill pass but it would take two General Elections and never again would this unwritten convention be relied upon without statute to support it.

Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective

Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

How can you get a balanced view and perspective about this British Prime Minister and what his real legacy is on this (2015) the 50th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s state funeral. The historians and politician’s literature never mind Winston’s own writings are huge. He never did a single TV interview Professor Vernon Bogdanor does us all proud with this excellent video lecture, in his roles as Emeritus Professor of Law and Visiting Professor of Political History at the excellent Gresham College find a little time and get an excellent balanced view and appraisal of the legacy left to us all by Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill Doctor’s letter requiring alcohol for recovery

Winston Churchill Doctor’s letter requiring alcohol for recovery

Ephemera from Winston and Queen Elizabeth’s lives as glimpses and objects for musing made us think about our own artefacts archives and objects…

Winston Churchill his life and work and his intriguing Connections with British History.Equally 'a study in failure' and as his colleagues would say led by Clement Atlee "The Greatest Englishman of our Time." A timeline and chronology of key event in his life and of the nation he served.
DateEvent/Entry
1874Born at Blenheim Palace, an astonishing residence that is a UNESCO WorldHeritage Site. He was the son of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American mother Jennie Jerome. He was grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.
1892Educated at Harrow, he was 17 when pictured here on this press article. In his year are listed all his fellow students but with two World wars by 1945 more than half of his year would have died. Churchill and his Harrow PalsArticle click here
1893Sandhurst Military Academy: Joined the Army attended Sandhurst Military Academy enrolled in 1893
1895Cuban War of Independence, Churchill, and fellow officer Reginald Barnes, travelled to Cuba to observe the Spanish fight the Cuban guerrillas. He was commissioned by the Daily Graphic to report his observations and developed a penchant, one of many for Cuban (Havana ) cigars.
1896 Bombay proved himself as Capable Polo Player Stationed in India Bombay proved himself as an excellent Polo Player
1898War Correspondent Sudan: Egypt and visited Luxor before joining an attachment of the 21st Lancers serving in the Sudan under the command of General Herbert Kitchener.
1898Publishes his own works "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" and "The River War and Savrola" These early works were later (1962) edited into a single volume Frontiers and Wars Volume 1. The Internet Archive copy can be found in the 1900 section of this timeline.
1899Oldham By-Election: stood as candidate for Oldham but failed to be elected.
1899-1902Boer War (1899) :commissioned to write as a correspondent for the Morning Post and accompanying a scouting operation he was captured and imprisoned in Pretoria. His bravery was noted during the ambush and he subsequently escaped from the prison camp travelling some 300 miles in the process. He joined General Buller's Army and continued reporting but also secured a commission in the South African Light Horse. With his cousin the Duke of Marlborough they were amongst first British troops into Ladysmith and Pretoria and demanded and achieved the surrender. of some 55 Boer prison camp guards.
1900Enters Parliament as Conservative MP for Oldham but defected two years later to the Liberals.
1900Publishes "Ian Hamilton's March" and "London to ladysmith"
Winston four early published works about his time as a War Correspondent including those published in 1898 can be found free on the Internet Archive in a single publication.
1906Publishes "Lord Randolph Churchill" and "My African Journey" His biography of his father poignantly illustrates his feeling for a distant father who he worshipped but never established a close relationship with and who castigated Winston believeing he would never make anything of his life.
1906-1908MP for North-West Manchester
1908Marriage to Clementine Hozier after a short engagement would last lifetime but must have been testing for Clementine.
1908Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909Supports Lloyd George in the People's Budget, that leads to finally establishing in law he supremacy of the Commons over the Lords.
1908-1910.President of the Board of Trade
1909Winston backs the relatively radical Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909 proposed by Lloyd George.
1910-1911Home Secretary under Herbert (HH) Asquith Incidents and events included firm handling of industrial unrest in South Wales that led to the Tonypandy riots. Parliament Act 1911 secures supremacy of the Commons over the Lords. and criticism for his handling of the Sidney Street Siege . He moved on from domestic affairs and the Home Office quite quickly.
1911-19151st Lord of the Admiralty, resigned from the Government in 1915 following the failure of the Dardanelles Campaign. Whilst Winston was criticised for his perceived recklessness, in reality this was more complex than popular opinions may suggest.
1915Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
1914-1918World War 1
1915 Apr - 1916 JanGallipoli Campaign An ill-fated campaign that justifies serious debate. Whilst Winston resigned over the campaign, the fault was wider than is popularly discussed. It warrants further consideration and will be updated as we explore themes between WW1 and WW2 that are connected and inevitably cross over the rich and complex life of Winston Churchill.
1915Takes-up Painting escaping after resignation to the country.Depressed following Resignation from the Admiralty after the Dardanelles and Gallipoli. Winston rented a house in the country and took-up Painting for the first time. Later he would be recognised for his painting as well as his writing. Another facet of his many capabilities.
1915-1916Active Service France Commanding Battalion
1917-1918Minister for MunitionsReturned from France where he had been commanding a Battalion to join David Lloyd George's Coalition Government as Minister for Munitions. In parallel the Balfour Declaration is made by Arthur Balfour which will impact on his role in the Colonial Office.
1919Paris Peace Conference 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles: Britain and in particular Lloyd George and Churchill concerned about the harsh conditions set for Germany.
1919-1921Secretary for Air and War
1921-1922Colonial Secretary and hosts the 1st Cairo Conference working with in the intriguing triptych of himself T E Lawrence and Gertrude Bell. This is also the year he buys Chartwell as his family home without consulting Clemmie whilst he loved it she never shared his passion for the property.
1921Churchill on Painting in Essay Churchill revealed in an essay for Strand magazine in 1921, Painting as a Pastime, “I don’t presume to explain how to paint, only how to get enjoyment,” adding that amateurs such as he “cannot aspire to masterpieces [but] content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint-box”.
1922-1924Publishes The World Crisis: Churchill as Writer and Author, pens a five volume history of World War I, 'The World Crisis' its available free The World Crisis by Winson Churchill 1914-1918 WWI the first world waro use on the Internet Archive as linked here
1922-1924Winston's The World Crisis/ available free for download The Internet Archive or read online here. Its a very readable and accessible text. You can hear him talking to you as you read and tun the pages. His voice is very much in the style of his writing.
1924-1929Re-elected to Parliament as a Conservative. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he returns Britain to the Gold Standard (1925) it is not successful.
1926Adopts a tough stance on the General Strike.
1930Winston published "My early Life" rated by most historians as a highly useful work and early biography.
1932Published "Thoughts and Adventures"
1933-1938Published "Life and Times"
1934 Nov 16th Winston's Speech Warning of the Threat of Nazi Germany Churchill's speech as an audio file (MP3) format from the BBC Archives available on the Internet Archive, free o usethis is the audio file and in it he chillingly (because we know the outcome) warns in measured tone of the potential dangers of Germany 'terrorising and torturing' civil populations. He ends in a quiet tone, leaving the listener to answer his rhetorical question "What Are We to Do?" There are few period in history where we can directly listen and see what was said with such clarity. It is all the more powerful compared to the text of the speech for hearing it in Churchill's distinctive tone. This is a full 4 years plus before war and makes clearer how certain in Churchill's own mind he must have been that Appeasement was the the wrong policy for the threat he believed the world and not just Britain faced.
1936Edward VIII Abdication Crisis Churchill tried o support the King and urged Baldwin to give him the time to consider.
1938-1941Blood Sweat and Tears Speeches 1938-1941 is a remarkable collection the texts of Winston's speeches before war is declared and whilst Neville Chamberlain was still Prime Minister. These speeches take us from before the final failure of Chamberlain's Munich through and including the early weeks and months of the war, Dunkirk, Their Finest Hour, The Tragedy of the French Fleet , Every Man to his Post , 'To the French People' , United States Cooperation and Put Your Confidence in Us. Where we can locate audio sources we will also add Winstons original. The audio files will be added according to the chronological dates as individual entries to make them easier to locate. This may take a little time to add. Randolph Winston's son edited the collection, gathered the works. We had to double check the publication date but it was during the war by popular request according to his preface and introduction. Amazing that time was taken for this as part of the management of communications with the public not only in the UK but the US as well.
1939Published "Step by Step"
1939-1940Published "1st Lord of the Admiralty" advocates rearmament and is firmly anti-appeasement.
1940-1945Prime Minister during WW2 and Minister of Defence but his time had come and history suggests he was the right man for the job.
1940Churchill speaking to House of Commons Winson addresses the Speaker and the House on the day in which he has become Prime Minister and formed his Government. His War Cabinet consisted of just 5 Ministers. Churchil SPeech to House on Appotntment as Prime Minister 13th may 1940Full text of the same speech is available here
1940 Apr-JunChamberlain finally falls on his sword following not only the failure of Appeasement but a poorly plan and ultimately failing Norwegian Campaign. The way is clear for Winston.
1940 JunDunkirk miraculous evacuation saves the British Expeditionary forces from the beaches and narrowly avoids an early defeat of Britain. Churchill has to unite Britain and quickly turn around fortunes. We now know the Cabinet met at least five times and considered whether to continue to fight Germany given Britain stood alone.
1941Winston Blitz Speech 1941
1941 OctAction This Day: for The Codebreakers and Enigma Hacks, the Bletchley Team wrote to Winston requesting vital resources needed to break Enigma. They go what they asked for "Make sure hey have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done." he instructed his Chief of Staff General Ismay.
1941-1945Stalin Roosevelt and Churchill Correspondence 1941-1945 Russian (Soviet) Sources Available on the internet archive, its an itriguing collection. The 1st volume of Correspondence Between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and Presidents of the USA and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, Volume 1: Correspondence with Winston S. Churchill and Clement R. Attlee (July 1941-November 1945.) We cannot verify all the material but have included as what seems to be a unique resource in respect of official correspondence. Most of this should also be available in the UK National Archives. We can then verify at least with a random sample. Again this may take some time but its a fascinating insight, even as a sample of the nature of the communications. Here is the online copy on the Internet Archive
1945-1964Conservative MP for Woodford
1945Clamour for social change despite the strength of his wartime leadership leaves Winston out of office, the Conservative party defeated and the early reforms of a a Labour government.
1945-1951Leader of the Opposition as Conservative
1945Churchill Speech on Unconditional Surrender of Germany
1945 May 8thChurchill and Queen VE DAY London 8th May 1945. The film and audio conveys just a little of the sheer unbridled joy and relief. My mother and her cousin were on the Mall that day and all night, now I know just a little of what it sounded like.
1946Honoured by Order of Merit
1946Underlined his concerns about he Soviet Union and domination of the Eastern Block wih his Iron Curtain Speech. President of the US at Westminster College video of the speech in audio can be played here.
1948-1951Published "The Second World War"
1948Honorary Academician Extraordinary by the Royal Academy for “achievements in the art of painting”.
1951-1955Returned to office but in failing health, even his bright young things in Cabinet knew that his powers were failing. 80 years old he finally made way for Anthony Eden. Eden so long in the wings what would he make of this opportunity. Winston, Eden and McMillan were 3 of the few who did not celebrate in the House when Chamberlain returned victorious from he Munich Conference. Not only were they right to be concerned, each of them would become Prime Minister. Arguably f Appeasement had succeeded maybe they never would have been called to be PMs.
1951-1952Stemming the Tide Speeches Collection
Free to use on the Internet archive these speeches published as this collection in 1954 give an insight into the depth of Winston. Even when not at his best, his thinking and views are more than worthy of our reading.
1953Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation
1953Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 & Appointed Knight of the Garter Citation "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values"
1956-1958published 4 volume History of the English Speaking Peoples, a view of the Anglo-Saxon world. His apprach to history reflected his belief in he Empire and Imperial Britain.
1959Solo Art Exhibition in the Diploma Galleries around the same time that Tate acquired for the nation his landscape The Loup River in the Alpes Maritimes.
1960Churchill College Cambridge founded by Royal Charter founded as a national and commonwealth memorial To Winston. Fooage of the opening with Clementine attending The Churchill Archives are also held there,Churchill College website click here for more
1963Honoured by USA President John F Kennedy makes him the first ever Honorary Citizen of the United States" Winston did not travel to the presentation but his son and grandson did. The citation read by Kennedy can be viewed in this short video.
1964Finally stands down as MP He was finally persuaded to stand-down from parliament and celebrates his 90th Brithday.
1965Winston dies 24th January State Funeral St Paul's Cathedral" Having reached the age of 90, the great man left us permanently within months of leaving office. Whilst he had his failings 50 years on most historians point to his brilliance when it mattered most. Voted Britain's favourite Briton, with a Cambridge College built in his name. The only Prime Minister to receive such recognition. He was and is the only Commoner since the 1st Duke of Wellington to receive a State funeral.
2015Balanced Perspective Lecture on Legacy of Winston Churchill by Professor Vernon Bogdanor of Gresham College London. A worthy reflection from an acknowledged expert in his field, video audio and text available via this post. Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective
2015 Jan 29th Lord Carington Last Man Standing who was in Government with Winston Churchill /strong> A video interview of Lord Carington about Winston. He is the last man alive at the time of writing (2015) that can tell us what it was like to work with Winston Churchill in his Government. Originally interviewed by the Telegraph in 2013 this articles links the resources so that you can listen and enjoy Lord Carington's (at 92) informed candid and charming observations.Winston Churchill by Lord Carington Interview BBC Newsnight