Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British Conservative politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century, he served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55).
On October 16 Churchill learned that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was a fitting tribute to one whose first book had been published more than fifty years earlier, whose five-volume history of the First World War had become a classic, and whose six-volume history of the Second World War was now so nearly completed.
Next to the Bible and Shakespeare, Churchill is the most frequent source of quotations... No public papers of any man in history have ever afforded so many wise epigrams, incisive observations, and pungent wit as those of Churchill.
No English statesmen has ever loved words more or made more persistent use of them to forward his career and redeem it in time of trouble. Words were also his main source of income throughout his life, from the age of twenty-one... He wrote thousands of articles for newspapers and magazines and over forty books.
King George did not want Churchill to be his prime minister. Most within the government and among the nation's elite preferred just about anyone else... But Churchill possessed two rare and precious gifts: first, a clear vision of the great threat that faced the free world; and second, the power of words.
Now at last, at last, his hour had struck. He had been waiting in Parliament for forty years, had grown bald and gray in his nation's service, had endured slander and calumny only to be summoned when the situation seemed hopeless to everyone except him.
Churchill was in the House of Commons. But what for? Personal advancement, certainly. He thirsted for office, power, and the chance to make history. Personal vindication, too: to avenge his father's failure by becoming prime minister himself... Churchill, then and always, was a mass of contradictions.
Backed by a photographic memory of the great writers he read as a youth, and with his own impressive vocabulary, Churchill honed his prose in the most challenging venue of all: the House of Commons... It is impossible to overstate the influence of that famous assembly which Churchill saw as his natural home... He left a mark there that lingers still.
Three months before his twenty-first birthday Churchill embarked upon a self-taught course of just such a liberal education. Although he was a cavalry officer with plenty of duties and riding commitments, and pleasures, he became a private undergraduate at his own university. The first of his teachers was Fawcett's 'Manual of Political Economy', published thirty years earlier.
All his life he was a man of extraordinary personal courage. As a youth he sought danger in Cuba, on India's North-West Frontier, on the Nile, and in South Africa. Each battle found him recklessly exposing himself to gunfire.
At most crucial moments in world history, certain men or women have stepped forward or been called upon to alter the course of history. Certainly, Winston Churchill was one of those men.