Churchill History


Laurel King, Contributor

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churchill historyThe Winston Churchill history is a legacy rich in accomplishment, change, and compromise. Although he was one of the most controversial leaders of the twentieth century, the Churchill history is replete with historically dynamic events.

To get a true feel for the history of Winston Churchill, it's best to start with his childhood. Born in Woodstock, England – at Blenheim Palace – Winston (or "Winnie" as he was called in childhood) arrived on November 30, 1874. Of course, in typical Churchill fashion, he made his appearance roughly two months before he was supposed to. There are competing stories as to what his mother was doing just prior to his premature birth. Some claim she was attending a ball, others argue that she was one of several in a shooting party, while still others say she was in a rather rough pony-carriage ride. Regardless of the circumstances, Winston Churchill came into the world much as he would leave it – on his own terms.

As a young boy, Churchill did poorly in formal education, but later became a self-taught scholar. While teachers failed to get through to him with their classical education and rote learning methods, Winston later became such a learned man that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1953) because of his astounding accomplishments in writing (The Second World War, published in 1948-53) and in speech (his oratory skills in defending human rights were world-famous).

During his time in the military, he traveled to India, Egypt, Afghanistan, and South Africa. He played for a championship polo team in his off time (while stationed in India). He acted as a paid war correspondent for two different newspapers, and even escaped capture as a prisoner of war. His later years of military service were in the territorial reserves of officers, and he retired in 1924 (at the age of 50).

To describe his political career as 'active' would be a grave disservice. When viewed by itself, Churchill's political activity is so complex, diverse, and groundbreaking, that it's a small miracle he ever had time for anything else. From the moment he was elected as Member of Parliament (1900) to his retirement over 60 years later (1964) Churchill never held still. He frequently switched parties, vehemently and very loudly disagreed with his colleagues, implemented sweeping social program changes, negotiated treaties, mediated arguments, and even caused a few. He held the position of First Lord of the Admiralty twice, during both world wars (from 1911-15, and 1939-40). He also managed to serve as Prime Minister of Britain twice, during World War II (1940-45) and at the height of the Cold War (1951-55).

Despite his long and active dual careers of politics and military service, added to a prolific writing habit, Churchill still found time to interact with his beloved wife (Clementine) and their four surviving children (Marigold died of septicemia at the age of 3, in 1921) at Chartwell, the family home. There, he indulged in his hobbies of painting, reading, writing, and bricklaying (even holding a union trade card in it). He also enjoyed raising prized pigs, a small dairy herd, and letting a huge collection of cats and dogs run freely in the home and outlying lands.

At the time of his death in 1965, Churchill was 90 years old, having outlived his father twice over (who had died at the age of 45, 70 years to the day before Winston died). With a rich legacy of military and political accomplishment, sarcastic wit, revered literary works, and loving children and wife, Winston had earned the right to utter his final words: "I'm bored with it all" because, in his one lifetime, he had experienced more than most people could experience in two.