1940s People – Winston Churchill

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Born in 1874 at Blenheim Palace, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was the eldest child of Lord Randolph Churchill and American heiress Jennie Jerome. After schooling to prepare him for a military role, Churchill joined the British Army in 1895 and was posted to India. It was during this period that he began his career as a writer, securing himself a position as a journalist with The Morning Post and producing a number of military books.

With his eye on a political career Churchill began speaking at Conservative meetings. This led to his selection as a parliamentary candidate for the 1899 June by-election in Oldham. The party lost the election by a narrow margin to The Liberal Party. Not one to be deterred, he stood again in 1900, this time in the general election, and secured his first seat in The House of Commons at just 25 years old.

There were, however, a number of times when Churchill outwardly disagreed with the views of his party and chose to vote in line with the Liberal leader Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman instead. In 1904 Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Balfour resigned his position, triggering a general election that saw the Liberal Party take control. It was then that Winston Churchill crossed the floor and became a Liberal MP, which he remained until 1924. Away from office during most of the 1930’s, Churchill joined the call for British action to address the growing threat in Nazi Germany. As war broke out he was reappointed First Lord of the Admiralty, replacing Neville Chamberlain as the Prime Minister of the coalition government between 1940 and 1945.

In the post war years Churchill returned to his Conservative roots, serving as leader of the opposition. An election victory in 1951 saw his return to power until 1955, when he resigned on health grounds at the age of 79.

As his political and military career grew, Churchill met Clementine, daughter of Sir Henry Hozier and Lady Blanche Hozier. On 11 August 1908 Winston proposed to Clementine and just one month later they were married in the grounds of Westminster Abbey. The couple remained married for 57 years and had five children, though sadly only one lived into older age.

Throughout his life Winston Churchill was a prolific writer and artist, his works including a fiction novel, two biographies, three volumes of memoirs, a variety of history books and too numerous press articles to mention. In recognition of his work, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1953. In addition, Churchill also completed hundreds of paintings under the pseudonym Charles Morin, some of which can be viewed at Chartwell, his family home at the time of his death in 1965, aged 90. Clementine died twelve years later at the age of 92.