BIOGRAPHY OF WINSTON CHURCHILL November, 2019 Serhat KAHYAOĞLU Western Languages and Literatures/English Language and Literature 190206013

“I am finished. *”

When the calendars showed the 1970’s, one of the greatest commanders in the world had already passed away. Up until now, that man’s life has been briefed and discussed. However, only Sir Martin Gilbert, who isn’t sectarian of Churchill, managed to create such a divine project telling Churchill’s entire life. Although the other historians adamantly opposed to Gilbert’s masterpiece, his book succeeded to become one of the milestones of the entire literature period. Besides, Sir Martin Gilbert was the authorized biography author, approved by Churchill himself. Thus, if there will be an article about Churchill, the primary source must be Churchill’s book, written by Gilbert. In this article, you’ll see huddled information gathered from Gilbert’s book and online sources.

Winston Churchill came to earth on 30 November 1874, in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, as a member of an aristocratic and rich family. His mother was one of the independent-minded New York socialites. His father the son of the Duke of Marlborough. From the age of two until the age of seven, Churchill was looked after by his nurse, Mrs. Everest. Churchill had very deep thankfulness to her and she had too. Churchill didn’t like to go to the school in his earlier life. He was getting poor grades and he would emphasize the point in one of his books:

 “….how hated I that school and what life anxiety I lived1…”

After performing poorly within two schools, he was sent to Harrow School, a boarding school near London. Within weeks of his enrollment, he joined the Harrow Rifle Corps, paving the way for his military career. He stayed there until 18 and he excelled at History of English. In 1895, he managed to join the Royal Cavalry.

Churchill joined the army as a second lieutenant. He and his fellow officer went to Cuba as the Spanish Army’s guest. His first mission gathers information about Spanish’s new penetrating bullet, given by British intelligence. After that mission, he went to India. In India, he spent most of his time reading books. Moreover, he asked his mother to send him, his some books to India. In 1898, he left India to fight against Muslim dervishes in Sudan(Battle of Omdurman)

While in the army, Churchill had written military reports for the number of newspapers. In 1899, he gave up the army and he stood for the Parliament as a Conservative. He was defeated. However, he determined himself to join the next elections. In the same year’s September, he was asked to go to South Africa as a war correspondent for the Morning Post to report on the Second Anglo-Boer War. He was taken as a prisoner because of Boer’s ambush.

After twenty-seven days in captivity, he managed to escape. After, he sent a journal to London to inform what happened to him:
“…I am very weak, but I am free2

He wrote lots of articles on his way to London and he wrote a book about which dealt with his experiences. These things made him famous.

On 1 October 1900, he became a member of to British Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, a place in Manchester. After then, he embarked on a tour to the USA and Canada to talk about his experiences while he was in South Africa. When he was in Washington D.C., he was invited to the White House to meet President McKinley.

*[On losing his position at the Admiralty in 1915. Churchill said to Lord Riddell, as cited in Maxims and Reflections, Chapter I (On Himself), Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company (1947)].
1 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.4-5
2 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp30-31

By his congressman period, he gave speeches to various places in Britain about his new ideas and ongoing wars. Because of changing their policies, Churchill decided to switch to the Liberal Party. In 1906, he was elected as a member of the Liberal Party and took place in the House of Commons. In 1908, Churchill entered the cabinet as the President of the Board and Table, responsible for social policy.

He introduced several reforms for the prison system, introduced the first minimum wage, helped labor exchanges and unemployment insurance. Amidst his newly reforms, he was married to Clementine Hoizer who would be Churchill’s supporter at his speeches.

In 1909, he was invited to Germany as a guest of the German Kaiser. With that visitation, his mind created a vision of the German military. He had participated in the bills against Noble’s power and changed the taxation system.

In 1911, he was appointed First Lord of Admiralty. As well as being in charge of the Royal Navy and newly founded Royal Naval Air Service. He asked the pilots to teach him how to fly. He told his flying adventures in his “Thoughts and Adventures” book.

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo. The Austro-Hungarian government sent an ultimatum to the Serbian government and demanded unacceptable privilege and trying to intervene in the Serbian judicial system. Meanwhile, Britain was at the shore of a civil war.

Due to German advance through Belgium, Great Britain declared war on Germany. For the time being, Churchill was giving vigorously speeches to an anxious society. In 1914, he left London for Antwerp. And he shared his experiences in Antwerp to the House of Commons to emphasize the fact that things were going well.

In 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the war on the side of Germany. Churchill favored a naval attack to the Dardanelles to push Ottomans back. Nevertheless, this idea was not approved by January 1915. The Anglo-French squadron took to attempt to push through the Dardanelles to the Sea of Marmara took place on 18 March 1915. The attack was unsuccessful. A French battleship, three British battleships were sunk. With his fearsome anger, Churchill wanted to attempt again. However, he was rejected.

Following the unsuccessful naval operation at Dardanelles, the landings begun on Gallipoli Peninsula. The landings were started amidst the political crisis. The political crisis was happening because of shell shortage happening in Flanders which led to comprise of the coalition government. One of the Conservative Party’s demands was Churchill’s resignation. On 21 May 1915, Churchill learned that he was no longer to be First Lord of the Admiralty.

He was offered, and accepted, the post of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In this way, he retained his seat both cabinet and the war council.

For a short time of period, he joined the war himself to experience “no man’s land”. In the final years of the battle, he was designated to the minister of munitions. Meanwhile, things were not going well in Russia, a Bolshevik rebellion took over the government and changed the system. Churchill warned his country about feedbacks on this dreadful event in his speeches.

He had to change his party again because his party had been drastically reduced in strength. He rejoined the  Conservative Party. He served as a Chancellor of the Exchequer.

When the calendars showed the year 1929, the Liberal Party came to power. Churchill, having retained his parliamentary seat, set off an extended visit to Canada and the USA, studying the political systems in both countries. He lectured and gave speeches. Until late-1932’s he had visited lots of countries and he foresaw the destruction capability of Nazis and warned people and politicians in his articles3.

3 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.188-189

He vigorously supported the rearmament of the British. Churchill’s fears that Britain would not be properly prepared if war suddenly started. He offered to create the Ministry of Supply, firstly it was rejected by the Prime Minister. However, Churchill gave a speech to illustrate the prominence of such a ministry, the idea was accepted.

Churchill hated the idea of “defeatism”. He could not take more when he heard “defeat” word. He illustrated the fact by saying these:

 “….No, the Ambassador should not have spoken so, Mr. Lippmann; he should not have said that dreadful word4….”

On 1 September 1939, Germany, without an ultimatum or warning, invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain and France to honor their treaties with Poland, they declared war on Germany. Two days later, Churchill was appointed to the First Lord of Admiralty. After the destruction number of Britain passenger ships and battleships by Nazi U-Boats, Churchill gave a speech about the war on the sea. After that speech, even supporters of the current prime minister, people said that they found their leaders. Invasion of Norway led to turmoil in the British council, this chaotic situation paved the way of resignation of current prime minister.

On May 10, 1941, King George V appointed Churchill as prime minister and minister of defense. His first two days as prime minister passed creating a new cabinet which he called “the Grand Coalition” When Churchill summoned the new ministers to Admiralty house, he said:

 “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat5.”

He did his best to convince France not to surrender but improving pressure and unbearable war conditions by Germans led to their surrender.

The hearth of Britain was bombarded day by day. War was resuming on air not only land. People were getting more worried that Britain would be invaded by the Nazis. Churchill kept speaking. He believed that Britain would prevail. Churchill renewed his relationship between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. POTUS6 signed the Lend-Lease Act which enabled Britain to buy everything whatever she needs with credit which would be paid after the war. Notwithstanding, America remained natural.

With the attack of Pearl Harbor conducted by Japan, The United States of America joined the war. Churchill said:

 “We had won the war7.”

For Britain’s sake, the declaration of war to Germany by the USA, was a good thing however Churchill worried about if the USA focuses on the Pacific than the Mediterranean and Europe. Churchill went to the USA. He managed to convince US President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the war in Europe should their priority.

After visiting Washington, he went to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, and there he addressed the Canadian Parliament.

Meanwhile, the war was going on, he went everywhere he could to convince people to support the Allies. By Yalta and Potsdam Conference he collaborated with the two leaders to develop a mutual strategy against the Axis.

Despite the surrender of Germany, he was defeated in the general elections by Labor Party. After his defeat, he kept giving speeches about Britain.

In 1946, he gave one of the most important speeches as known, the Iron Curtain speech. He warned the expansion of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. He also supported the idea of not joining European alliances.

On 25 October 1951, the Conservative Party won the elections and Churchill became prime minister. As prime minister, he went to Washington to address the US Congress about the Korean War and any possibility of third world war must be averted.


4 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.215
5 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.242
7 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.289

Churchill introduced new reforms such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954 which improved working conditions in mines.

On 5 April 1955, Churchill, after suffering a series of strokes, resigned as Prime Minister. He was eighty years old. On the previous evening Churchill and his wife gave their farewell dinner at 10 Downing Street for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

He spent his last years by finishing last volume of his book; “ A History of English-Speaking Peoples” In his last paragraph, he wrote:
“Here is set out a long story of the English-Speaking Peoples. They are now to become Allies in terrible but victorious wars. And that is not the end. Another phase looms before us, in which alliance will once more be tested and in which its formidable virtues may be to preserve Peace and Freedom. The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope. Nor should we now seek to define precisely the exact terms of ultimate union8.”

On 9 October 1959, the Conservatives returned to power. Churchill retained his seat and was once more Member of the Parliament where he was elected fifty-nine years earlier. He never spoke to the Parliament again.

He spoke his last public speech at constituency in Woodford.
“…In all this we in Britain have a great part to play, a leading part. By our courage, our endurance, and our brains we have made our way in the world to the lasting benefit of mankind. Let us not lose heart. Our future is one of high hope9…”

Churchill died on January 24, 1965, at age 90 in his home in London after suffering a severe stroke.

He wrote forty-three10 books in his entire life. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He won the Nobel Prize for literature for “his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values,” according to the Nobel Prize committee.

8 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.424
9 Gilbert,M 2012, Churchill: The Power of Words – His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches,pp.428-429



Winston Churchill was a prolific writer and author and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.


Churchill was a son of a British statesman father and an American socialite mother.


In 1963 President JFK bestowed Churchill honorary U.S. citizenship, the first time a president gave such an award to a foreign national.

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  1. Alper Tırmıkçı

    This reduced version of Sir Gilbert’s book is quite useful for a history enthusiast like me. And I think you should have a look at Churchill’s autobiography “My Early Life” as it gives very essential informations about his mindset in army days, his hunger for action and glory.

  2. I liked your way of forming sentences and your researcher personality but creating a subject about a man who is responsible for about 15 million people death is not ethical.

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