History for kids

Winston Churchill

Winston churchill was chosen as one of the most influential leaders of all time. he was the prime minister of britain during world war ii and was also involved in the government during world war i. churchill was a leader, a historian, a writer and a painter. he even won the nobel prize for literature in 1953..


Early Years

Churchill was born on November 30, 1874. He was educated in Ireland and was not a very good student. He typically got poor grades and when he was old enough to join Sandhurst (a military academy), he went against his father’s wishes and joined the cavalry. His father wanted him to join the infantry. He actually did well in the cavalry and graduated eighth in his class.

It was in Sandhurst that Churchill began to write and he would often write about the battles he was involved in. His first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, covered his time in India. He also wrote book about his time in Sudan as well as South Africa.

Churchill entered politics in 1901 by winning the seat at Oldham for the Conservatives, although, he switched parties and joined the Liberals in 1904. Churchill rose in the government after successfully dealing with a number of difficult situations such as the miner’s strike in Tonypandy and the Siege of Sidney Street.

In 1911, Churchill was made the First Lord of the Admiralty and he did his best to ensure that the navy would be ready for the outbreak of World War I. He ordered the development of new ships and submarines as well as the development of a naval air service.

World War I

Churchill ordered the seizure of two Turkish battleships that were being built in British shipyards so they could be not be used against Britain in the war. Churchill was worried that Turkey was negotiating with Germany about becoming an ally in the war. Turkey was actually in negotiations with both Germany and England and many scholars believe that Churchill’s decision to seize the warships pushed the Turks towards Germany.

Gallipoli (The Dardanelles)

Churchill was the main designer of the Gallipoli campaign which was designed to take control of the Dardanelle Straits which were currently controlled by Turkey. This would open up a supply route for Russia and take Turkey out of the war. The campaign, which took place in early 1915, was a disaster and over 73,000 Allied soldiers were either wounded or killed.

Churchill was blamed for the disaster and was removed from his post as First Lord of the Admiralty. He remained in government but did not hold any major position of power until after the war.

World War II

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Churchill gave a number of speeches warning the government and the population at large about the dangers that Hitler posed. Unfortunately, few people agreed with him. Churchill argued against the Munich Agreement, which gave Germany part of Czechoslovakia (which Czechoslovakia did not agree with) and he argued that Germany would attempt to gain even more territory.

When Hitler invaded Poland and war was declared, Churchill was given a spot on the war cabinet and was renamed the First Lord of the Admiralty. When Hitler invaded Norway and defeated the Allied forces, the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, resigned after a poor showing in a no-confidence vote. As a result, Winston Churchill was named the next prime minister in 1940.

Churchill established the SOE (Special Operations Executive) which ran secret missions in German-held territory. He also set up the Commando forces which developed into the Special Forces.

When German forces invaded France, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been sent in to help but ended up having to retreat. The BEF was trapped on the French coastline and had to be evacuated over the course of nine days. Over 300,000 men were evacuated but they had to leave a lot of equipment behind.

France requested that Churchill send British fighter planes to help hold off the German invasion but he refused. Churchill recognized that the fighter squadrons would not be very effective in holding off the German invasion and he also realized that he would need these fighters to protect Britain from German attack.

Battle of Britain

Once Hitler had control of France, he began to make plans for the invasion of England. Hitler ordered bombing raids on the country. These raids were initially focused on coastal airfields and other military targets (such as radar installations) but the raids soon bombed further inland. The German bombers were told not to bomb cities but after they mistakenly bombed the outskirts of London, Churchill ordered the bombing of German cities. Hitler followed with similar orders to bomb English cities.

Churchill gave a number of speeches during the Battle of Britain aimed at building up the morale of the population and the armed forces. The British air force was able to hold off the attacks and once Churchill realized that Hitler would not be able to invade England, he was able to send troops to shore up battalions fighting elsewhere.

Attack in French Algiers

Churchill was worried that the French fleet, which was stationed in French Algeria, would be given to the Germans, since the Germans now had control of France. The French Admiral stated that the fleet would not fall into German hands but Churchill decided that he couldn’t take the risk. He ordered the British Navy to attack the French fleet while it was at dock. The attack occurred on July 3, 1940 and resulted in the destruction of a number of ships and the deaths of almost 1,300 French sailors.

The Search for Allies

Churchill recognized that he needed allies if England was to defeat Germany. He approached the United States, which was officially neutral. The American government refused to join the war at this time but did agree to sell supplies. The United States entered the war after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour and they became an important ally for Churchill’s fight.

Churchill was very anti-communist but he approached the Soviet Union in an effort to ally their forces. Stalin (the leader of the Soviet Union) agreed to join forces after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Britain then began to send supplies to the Soviet Union.

Churchill had to work hard to make the alliance work. He attended a number of meetings and strategy sessions to discuss how the war was to be conducted. Churchill travelled over 160,000 kilometers during the war in order to attend these meetings. At these meetings, Churchill and the other allies came to a number of agreements regarding who would get what at the end of the war. Essentially, the world was divided up by the Allies.

Bombing Campaign

Churchill had ordered the bombing of German cities during the Battle of Britain and this bombing continued throughout the war. Some of the cities that Churchill ordered bombed included Lubeck, Hamburg, and Dresden. In Dresden, between 25,000 and 40,000 people died.

Normandy Invasion

While the Normandy invasion was being planned, Churchill demanded that the invasion be postponed until winning was assured through the use of overwhelming force. To meet this demand, the invasion was put off until June 1944. This delay allowed the Soviets to gain the lead in capturing Nazi-held territory and although Churchill wanted a swifter advance once the forces had landed, Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, insisted on a slower approach. This allowed the Soviets to reach Berlin, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague first.

Churchill did send British soldiers to Greece to intervene in the civil war there so that the communists would not take over the country. By stopping the communists in Greece, Churchill also ensured that the communists would not be able to take over Turkey.

Churchill helped organize Operation Fortitude which was designed to confuse the Germans about where the invasion was going to take place. This operation caused the Germans to waste resources in order to hold off possible attacks in different places.

The End of the War

The war was nearing the end and Churchill became concerned about the Soviet Union. He had plans drawn up for an attack on the Soviet Union but it was decided that the plan would not work given the Soviet Union’s greater number of soldiers.

An election shortly after the war resulted in Churchill losing as prime minister and while he was out of power, he continued to warn people about against the threat posed by the Soviet Union but few people were willing to take the necessary steps to push back the Soviet Union.

Churchill became prime minister again in 1951 when the Conservatives won the election. Unfortunately, he had suffered a stroke in 1953 and, although, he continued to rule for a few more years, he decided that his health would not allow him to continue as prime minister. He resigned in 1955 and the queen offered to make him a duke but he refused. He remained in parliament until 1964 although he rarely attended parliamentary sessions.

Churchill died on January 24, 1965. His funeral was broadcast live and was viewed by over 350 million people. The queen as well as representatives from over one hundred countries attended the funeral. During the funeral procession, thousands of people quietly lined the streets to watch the body pass.

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Winston Churchill

By: History.com Editors

Updated: June 7, 2019 | Original: October 27, 2009

Churchill April 1939: British Conservative politician Winston Churchill. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Winston Churchill was one of the best-known, and some say one of the greatest, statesmen of the 20th century. Though he was born into a life of privilege, he dedicated himself to public service. His legacy is a complicated one: He was an idealist and a pragmatist; an orator and a soldier; an advocate of progressive social reforms and an unapologetic elitist; a defender of democracy – especially during World War II – as well as of Britain’s fading empire. But for many people in Great Britain and elsewhere, Winston Churchill is simply a hero.

Winston Churchill came from a long line of English aristocrat-politicians. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was descended from the First Duke of Marlborough and was himself a well-known figure in Tory politics in the 1870s and 1880s.

His mother, born Jennie Jerome, was an American heiress whose father was a stock speculator and part-owner of The New York Times. (Rich American girls like Jerome who married European noblemen were known as “dollar princesses.”)

Did you know? Sir Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his six-volume history of World War II.

Churchill was born at the family’s estate near Oxford on November 30, 1874. He was educated at the Harrow prep school, where he performed so poorly that he did not even bother to apply to Oxford or Cambridge. Instead, in 1893 young Winston Churchill headed off to military school at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Battles and Books

After he left Sandhurst, Churchill traveled all around the British Empire as a soldier and as a journalist. In 1896, he went to India; his first book, published in 1898, was an account of his experiences in India’s Northwest Frontier Province.

In 1899, the London Morning Post sent him to cover the Boer War in South Africa, but he was captured by enemy soldiers almost as soon as he arrived. (News of Churchill’s daring escape through a bathroom window made him a minor celebrity back home in Britain.)

By the time he returned to England in 1900, the 26-year-old Churchill had published five books.

Churchill: “Crossing the Chamber”

That same year, Winston Churchill joined the House of Commons as a Conservative. Four years later, he “crossed the chamber” and became a Liberal.

His work on behalf of progressive social reforms such as an eight-hour workday, a government-mandated minimum wage, a state-run labor exchange for unemployed workers and a system of public health insurance infuriated his Conservative colleagues, who complained that this new Churchill was a traitor to his class.

Churchill and Gallipoli

In 1911, Churchill turned his attention away from domestic politics when he became the First Lord of the Admiralty (akin to the Secretary of the Navy in the U.S.). Noting that Germany was growing more and more bellicose, Churchill began to prepare Great Britain for war: He established the Royal Naval Air Service, modernized the British fleet and helped invent one of the earliest tanks.

Despite Churchill’s prescience and preparation, World War I was a stalemate from the start. In an attempt to shake things up, Churchill proposed a military campaign that soon dissolved into disaster: the 1915 invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

Churchill hoped that this offensive would drive Turkey out of the war and encourage the Balkan states to join the Allies, but Turkish resistance was much stiffer than he had anticipated. After nine months and 250,000 casualties, the Allies withdrew in disgrace.

After the debacle at Gallipoli, Churchill left the Admiralty.

Churchill Between the Wars

During the 1920s and 1930s, Churchill bounced from government job to government job, and in 1924 he rejoined the Conservatives. Especially after the Nazis came to power in 1933, Churchill spent a great deal of time warning his countrymen about the perils of German nationalism, but Britons were weary of war and reluctant to get involved in international affairs again.

Likewise, the British government ignored Churchill’s warnings and did all it could to stay out of Hitler’s way. In 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain even signed an agreement giving Germany a chunk of Czechoslovakia – “throwing a small state to the wolves,” Churchill scolded – in exchange for a promise of peace.

A year later, however, Hitler broke his promise and invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war. Chamberlain was pushed out of office, and Winston Churchill took his place as prime minister in May 1940.

Churchill: The “British Bulldog”

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” Churchill told the House of Commons in his first speech as prime minister.

“We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

Just as Churchill predicted, the road to victory in World War II was long and difficult: France fell to the Nazis in June 1940. In July, German fighter planes began three months of devastating air raids on Britain herself.

Though the future looked grim, Churchill did all he could to keep British spirits high. He gave stirring speeches in Parliament and on the radio. He persuaded U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide war supplies – ammunition, guns, tanks, planes – to the Allies, a program known as Lend-Lease, before the Americans even entered the war.

Though Churchill was one of the chief architects of the Allied victory, war-weary British voters ousted the Conservatives and their prime minister from office just two months after Germany’s surrender in 1945.

The Iron Curtain

The now-former prime minister spent the next several years warning Britons and Americans about the dangers of Soviet expansionism.

In a speech in Fulton, Missouri , in 1946, for example, Churchill declared that an anti-democratic “Iron Curtain,” “a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization,” had descended across Europe. Churchill’s speech was the first time anyone had used that now-common phrase to describe the Communist threat.

In 1951, 77-year-old Winston Churchill became prime minister for the second time. He spent most of this term working (unsuccessfully) to build a sustainable détente between the East and the West. He retired from the post in 1955.

In 1953, Queen Elizabeth made Winston Churchill a knight of the Order of the Garter. He died in 1965, one year after retiring from Parliament.

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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill


Who Was Winston Churchill?

Early years.

Churchill was born on November 30, 1874, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.

From an early age, young Churchill displayed the traits of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, a British statesman from an established English family, and his mother, Jeanette "Jennie" Jerome, an independent-minded New York socialite.

Churchill grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where his father was employed by his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, John Spencer-Churchill.

Churchill proved to be an independent and rebellious student; after performing poorly at his first two schools, Churchill in April 1888 began attending Harrow School, a boarding school near London. Within weeks of his enrollment, he joined the Harrow Rifle Corps, putting him on a path to a military career.

At first, it didn't seem the military was a good choice for Churchill; it took him three tries to pass the exam for the British Royal Military College. However, once there, he fared well and graduated 20th in his class of 130.

Up to this time, his relationship with both his mother and father was distant, though he adored them both. While at school, Churchill wrote emotional letters to his mother, begging her to come see him, but she seldom came.

His father died when he was 21, and it was said that Churchill knew him more by reputation than by any close relationship they shared.

Winston Churchill

Military Career

Churchill enjoyed a brief but eventful career in the British Army at a zenith of British military power. He joined the Fourth Queen's Own Hussars in 1895 and served in the Indian northwest frontier and the Sudan, where he saw action in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

While in the Army, he wrote military reports for the Pioneer Mail and the Daily Telegraph , and two books on his experiences, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899).

In 1899, Churchill left the Army and worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post , a conservative daily newspaper. While reporting on the Boer War in South Africa, he was taken prisoner by the Boers during a scouting expedition.

He made headlines when he escaped, traveling almost 300 miles to Portuguese territory in Mozambique. Upon his return to Britain, he wrote about his experiences in the book London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900).

Parliament and Cabinet

In 1900, Churchill became a member of the British Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, a town in Manchester. Following his father into politics, he also followed his father's sense of independence, becoming a supporter of social reform.

Unconvinced that the Conservative Party was committed to social justice, Churchill switched to the Liberal Party in 1904. He was elected a member of Parliament in 1908 and was appointed to the prime minister's cabinet as president of the Board of Trade.

As president of the Board of Trade, Churchill joined newly appointed Chancellor David Lloyd George in opposing the expansion of the British Navy. He introduced several reforms for the prison system, introduced the first minimum wage and helped set up labor exchanges and unemployment insurance.

Churchill also assisted in the passing of the People's Budget, which introduced taxes on the wealthy to pay for new social welfare programs. The budget passed in the House of Commons in 1909 and was initially defeated in the House of Lords before being passed in 1910.

In January 1911, Churchill showed his tougher side when he made a controversial visit to a police siege in London, with two alleged robbers holed up in a building.

Churchill's degree of participation is still in some dispute: Some accounts have him going to the scene only to see for himself what was going on; others state that he allegedly gave directions to police on how to best storm the building.

What is known is that the house caught fire during the siege and Churchill prevented the fire brigade from extinguishing the flames, stating that he thought it better to "let the house burn down," rather than risk lives rescuing the occupants. The bodies of the two robbers were later found inside the charred ruins.

Wife and Children

In 1908, Winston Churchill married Clementine Ogilvy Hozier after a short courtship.

The couple had five children together: Diana, Randolph, Sarah, Marigold (who died as a toddler of tonsillitis) and Mary.


Winston Churchill Fact Card

First Lord of the Admiralty

Named First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, Churchill helped modernize the British Navy, ordering that new warships be built with oil-fired instead of coal-fired engines.

He was one of the first to promote military aircraft and set up the Royal Navy Air Service. He was so enthusiastic about aviation that he took flying lessons himself to understand firsthand its military potential.

Churchill also drafted a controversial piece of legislation to amend the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913, mandating sterilization of the feeble-minded. The bill, which mandated only the remedy of confinement in institutions, eventually passed in both houses of Parliament.

World War I

Churchill remained in his post as First Lord of the Admiralty through the start of World War I , but was forced out for his part in the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli . He resigned from the government toward the end of 1915.

For a brief period, Churchill rejoined the British Army, commanding a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front and seeing action in "no man's land."

In 1917, he was appointed minister of munitions for the final year of the war, overseeing the production of tanks, airplanes and munitions.

After World War I

From 1919 to 1922, Churchill served as minister of war and air and colonial secretary under Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

As colonial secretary, Churchill was embroiled in another controversy when he ordered air power to be used on rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq, a British territory. At one point, he suggested that poisonous gas be used to put down the rebellion, a proposal that was considered but never enacted.

Fractures in the Liberal Party led to the defeat of Churchill as a member of Parliament in 1922, and he rejoined the Conservative Party. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, returning Britain to the gold standard, and took a hard line against a general labor strike that threatened to cripple the British economy.

With the defeat of the Conservative government in 1929, Churchill was out of government. He was perceived as a right-wing extremist, out of touch with the people.

In the 1920s, after his ouster from government, Churchill took up painting. “Painting came to my rescue in a most trying time,” he later wrote.

Churchill went on to create over 500 paintings, typically working en plein air , though also practicing with still lifes and portraits. He claimed that painting helped him with his powers of observation and memory.

Sutherland Portrait

Churchill himself was the subject of a famous - and famously controversial - portrait by renowned artist Graham Sutherland.

Commissioned in 1954 by members of Parliament to mark Churchill's 80th birthday, the portrait was first unveiled in a public ceremony in Westminster Hall, where it met with considerable derision and laughter.

The unflattering modernist painting was reportedly loathed by Churchill and members of his family. Churchill's wife Clementine had the Sutherland portrait secretly destroyed in a bonfire several months after it was delivered to their country estate, Chartwell , in Kent.

Winston Churchill

'Wilderness Years'

Through the 1930s, known as his "wilderness years," Churchill concentrated on his writing, publishing a memoir and a biography of the First Duke of Marlborough.

During this time, he also began work on his celebrated A History of the English-Speaking Peoples , though it wouldn't be published for another two decades.

As activists in 1930s India clamored for independence from British rule, Churchill cast his lot with opponents of independence. He held particular scorn for Mahatma Gandhi , stating that "it is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer ... striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace ... to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor."

  • World War II

Although Churchill didn't initially see the threat posed by Adolf Hitler 's rise to power in the 1930s, he gradually became a leading advocate for British rearmament.

By 1938, as Germany began controlling its neighbors, Churchill had become a staunch critic of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain 's policy of appeasement toward the Nazis.

On September 3, 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany, Churchill was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the war cabinet; by April 1940, he became chairman of the Military Coordinating Committee.

Later that month, Germany invaded and occupied Norway, a setback for Chamberlain, who had resisted Churchill's proposal that Britain preempt German aggression by unilaterally occupying vital Norwegian iron mines and seaports.

Prime Minister

On May 10, 1940, Chamberlain resigned and King George VI appointed Churchill as prime minister and minister of defense.

Within hours, the German army began its Western Offensive, invading the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Two days later, German forces entered France. As clouds of war darkened over Europe, Britain stood alone against the onslaught.

Churchill was to serve as prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945, leading the country through World War II until Germany’s surrender.

Battle of Britain

Quickly, Churchill formed a coalition cabinet of leaders from the Labor, Liberal and Conservative parties. He placed intelligent and talented men in key positions.

On June 18, 1940, Churchill made one of his iconic speeches to the House of Commons, warning that "the Battle of Britain " was about to begin. Churchill kept resistance to Nazi dominance alive and created the foundation for an alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union.

Churchill had previously cultivated a relationship with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, and by March 1941, he was able to secure vital U.S. aid through the Lend Lease Act , which allowed Britain to order war goods from the United States on credit.

After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Churchill was confident that the Allies would eventually win the war. In the months that followed, Churchill worked closely with Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to forge an Allied war strategy and postwar world.

In a meeting in Tehran (1943), at the Yalta Conference (1945) and the Potsdam Conference (1945), Churchill collaborated with the two leaders to develop a united strategy against the Axis Powers and helped craft the postwar world with the United Nations as its centerpiece.

As the war wound down, Churchill proposed plans for social reforms in Britain but was unable to convince the public. Despite Germany's surrender on May 7, 1945, Churchill was defeated in the general election in July 1945.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965), in the garden of No 10 Downing Street. At this time he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

'Iron Curtain' Speech

In the six years after Churchill’s defeat, he became the leader of the opposition party and continued to have an impact on world affairs.

In March 1946, while on a visit to the United States, he made his famous "Iron Curtain" speech , warning of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe. He also advocated that Britain remain independent from European coalitions.

With the general election of 1951, Churchill returned to government. He became prime minister for the second time in October 1951 and served as minister of defense between October 1951 and March 1952.

Churchill went on to introduce reforms such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954, which improved working conditions in mines, and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955, which established standards for housing.

These domestic reforms were overshadowed by a series of foreign policy crises in the colonies of Kenya and Malaya, where Churchill ordered direct military action. While successful in putting down the rebellions, it became clear that Britain was no longer able to sustain its colonial rule.

Nobel Prize

In 1953, Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II .

The same year, he was named the recipient of 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.

Churchill died on January 24, 1965, at age 90, in his London home nine days after suffering a severe stroke. Britain mourned for more than a week.

Churchill had shown signs of fragile health as early as 1941 when he suffered a heart attack while visiting the White House. Two years later, he had a similar attack while battling a bout of pneumonia.

In June 1953, at age 78, he endured a series of strokes at his office. That particular news was kept from the public and Parliament, with the official announcement stating that he had suffered from exhaustion.

Churchill recuperated at home and returned to his work as prime minister in October. However, it was apparent even to the great statesman that he was physically and mentally slowing down, and he retired as prime minister in 1955. Churchill remained a member of Parliament until the general election of 1964 when he did not seek reelection.

There was speculation that Churchill suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his final years, though medical experts pointed to his earlier strokes as the likely cause of reduced mental capacity.

Despite his poor health, Churchill was able to remain active in public life, albeit mostly from the comfort of his homes in Kent and Hyde Park Gate in London.

As with other influential world leaders, Churchill left behind a complicated legacy.

Honored by his countrymen for defeating the dark regime of Hitler and the Nazi Party , he topped the list of greatest Britons of all time in a 2002 BBC poll, outlasting other luminaries like Charles Darwin and William Shakespeare .

To critics, his steadfast commitment to British imperialism and his withering opposition to independence for India underscored his disdain for other races and cultures.

Churchill Movies and Books

Churchill has been the subject of numerous portrayals on the big and small screen over the years, with actors from Richard Burton to Christian Slater taking a crack at capturing his essence. John Lithgow delivered an acclaimed performance as Churchill in the Netflix series The Crown , winning an Emmy for his work in 2017.

That year also brought the release of two biopics: In June, Brian Cox starred in the titular role of Churchill , about the events leading up to the World War II invasion of Normandy. Gary Oldman took his turn by undergoing an eye-popping physical transformation to become the iconic statesman in Darkest Hour .

Churchill's standing as a towering figure of the 20th century is such that his two major biographies required multiple authors and decades of research between volumes. William Manchester published volume 1 of The Last Lion in 1983 and volume 2 in 1986, but died while working on part 3; it was finally completed by Paul Reid in 2012.

The official biography, Winston S. Churchill , was begun by the former prime minister's son Randolph in the early 1960s; it passed on to Martin Gilbert in 1968, and then into the hands of an American institution, Hillsdale College , some three decades later. In 2015, Hillsdale published volume 18 of the series.


  • Name: Winston Churchill
  • Birth Year: 1874
  • Birth date: November 30, 1874
  • Birth City: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
  • Birth Country: England
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Winston Churchill was a British military leader and statesman. Twice named prime minister of Great Britain, he helped to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.
  • World Politics
  • Astrological Sign: Sagittarius
  • Harrow School
  • Brunswick School
  • Royal Military College (Academy) at Sandhurst
  • St. George's School
  • Interesting Facts
  • 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.
  • Death Year: 1965
  • Death date: January 24, 1965
  • Death City: Hyde Park Gate, London
  • Death Country: England

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us !


  • Article Title: Winston Churchill Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/political-figures/winston-churchill
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: January 22, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 3, 2014
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
  • I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
  • Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
  • Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities ... because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
  • From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

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Winston Churchill Facts & Worksheets

Sir winston churchill was an english military leader, writer and prime minister., search for worksheets, download the winston churchill facts & worksheets.

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Table of Contents

Sir Winston Churchill was an English military leader, writer and prime minister. He was known for his speeches and strong alliances made with the United States and the Soviet Union during World War II.

See the fact file below for more information on Winston Churchill or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Winston Churchill worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.

Key Facts & Information

Early life, military and writing career.

  • Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on November 30, 1874, to Lord Randolph Churchill, a statesman, and Jeanette Jerome, an American socialite.
  • Young Winston spent some of his childhood years in Dublin, Ireland, where his father worked under the tutelage of his grandfather, John Spencer Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough.
  • In April 1888, he entered Harrow School and joined Harrow Rifle Corps.
  • As a student, Churchill enjoyed history and English composition but inept in foreign languages, especially Latin.
  • Churchill took three tries to pass the exam for the British Royal Military College and eventually graduated 20th in his class of 130.
  • While at boarding school, Churchill wrote letters to his mother to visit him. Not seeing both his parents developed a distant relationship. When he was 21, his father died.
  • In 1895, he joined the Fourth Queen’s Own Hussars and served in the Indian northwest frontier. He wrote reports for the Pioneer Mail and the Daily Telegraph. In addition, Churchill also published two books, namely The Story of the Malakand Field Force in 1898 and The River War in 1899.
  • Upon publishing his second book, Churchill left the army to work as a war correspondent for the Morning Post. He was present at the Boer War in South Africa and was held hostage by the Boers. Churchill eventually escaped to Mozambique, a Portuguese territory during those times, and returned to London with his experiences chronicled in his book London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900).

At Parliament

  • Following his father into politics, Churchill became a member of Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, Manchester, in 1900. After four years, he switched to the Liberal Party as they supported social reform and justice.
  • By 1908, he was elected a member of Parliament and was appointed as president of the Board of Trade under the prime minister’s cabinet.
  • As president of the Board of Trade, Churchill introduced reforms for the prison system, minimum wage, and others in labor. In addition, he was known for supporting the People’s Budget, which taxed wealthy people to pay for newly established social welfare programs. It easily passed the House of Commons but was defeated in the House of Lords before being passed in 1910.
  • After a year, he helped modernize the British Navy by ordering additional warships to be built with oil-fired engines instead of coal. Moreover, Churchill became the first to set up the Royal Navy Air Service. For his contributions, he was named First Lord of Admiralty.
  • At the end of 1915, Churchill resigned from government after the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli (which inspired ANZAC Day).
  • He rejoined the British Army and commanded the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front.
  • By 1917 until the end of WWI, he was appointed Minister of Munitions.
  • Under Prime Minister Lloyd George, Churchill served as Minister of War and as Air and Colonial Secretary in Iraq.
  • In 1922, he was defeated as a member of Parliament under the Liberal Party. As a result, he rejoined the Conservative Party and served as chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • In 1929, after the defeat of the Conservative government, he faced his political wilderness years and focused on his writing. He wrote A History of English-Speaking Peoples, which was published two decades later.
  • On September 3, 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. Churchill became a member of the War Cabinet and chair of the Military Coordinating Committee.
  • In May 1940, a debate heated Parliament after the Norwegian crisis, which led to dismay towards Prime Minister Chamberlain. On May 10, 1940, King George VI appointed Churchill as the new prime minister and Minister of Defense.
  • At the time of his appointment, the German Army began its Western offensive, invading the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Britain.
  • On June 18, 1940, Prime Minister Churchill delivered his speech to the House of Commons declaring the Battle of Britain.
  • As Britain stood alone against the German onslaught, Churchill forged an alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union. By March 1941, he was able to order war goods from the United States on credit through the Lend-Lease Act. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had good relationship with Churchill since the 1930s.
  • In December 1941, the U.S. officially entered WWII. With the Allied Powers led by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, they eventually won the war in 1945.
  • Prime Minister Churchill continued to work with Roosevelt and Stalin post-world war.
  • After WWII, the Allies’ efforts to develop a united strategy against the Axis Powers and post-world war rehabilitation resulted in the establishment of the United Nations.
  • Despite Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945, Churchill was defeated in the election two months later. He soon became the leader of the opposition party. By March 1946, he went to the United States and made his iconic speech “Iron Curtain”, regarding the Soviet Union’s domination in Eastern Europe.
  • In October 1951, Churchill was elected as prime minister for the second time and introduced reforms like the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954 and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955.
  • It was during Churchill’s term that Britain could no longer sustain its colonial rule over the colonies of Kenya and Malaya.
  • Due to poor health, he retired as prime minister in 1955 but remained a member of Parliament until 1964.

Churchill’s Death

  • As early as 1941, Churchill began experiencing heart attacks and endured strokes in 1953. On January 24, 1965, at the age of 90, Churchill died at his home in London after suffering a severe stroke.
  • In 1953, Prime Minister Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and at the same time knighted by Queen Elizabeth the II.
  • Some believed that Churchill suffered from Alzheimer’s disease later in his life.
  • During his lifetime, he published a number of books, while some were posthumously printed.

Winston Churchill Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Winston Churchill across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Winston Churchill worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Sir Winston Churchill who was an English military leader, writer and prime minister. He was known for his speeches and strong alliances made with the United States and the Soviet Union during World War II.

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Winston Churchill Facts
  • The British Bulldog
  • Britain’s Famous
  • World War Leaders
  • British Empire in Action
  • Behind the Iron Curtain
  • World War II
  • Churchill and Britain
  • British Politics
  • In Books and Screens
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is winston churchill best known for.

Winston Churchill was an important person in many ways. He wrote and talked well. He also led Britain to success during World War Two. And he served as Prime Minister for the Conservative party two times, from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955.

Did Churchill fight in ww1?

After joining the Army, he became an officer quickly. He served on the Western Front until early 1916. Then in 1917, Churchill became Minister of Munitions under Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s government. He held this position until January 1919.

Was Churchill good at war?

By possessing courage, luck, tenacity, determination, defiance, empathy and energy while also having the ability to inspire others; he gained a global reputation as one of history’s best war leaders.

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Sir winston churchill: a biography, the aim of this page is to give a brief introduction to the career of sir winston churchill, and to reveal the main features of both the public and the private life of the most famous british prime minister of the twentieth century..

Winston Churchill was born into the privileged world of the British aristocracy on November 30, 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American business tycoon, Leonard Jerome.

Winston’s childhood was not a particularly happy one. Like many Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant. The family Nanny, Mrs Everest, became a surrogate mother to Winston and his younger brother, John S Churchill.

The Soldier

After passing out of Sandhurst and gaining his commission in the 4th Hussars’ in February 1895, Churchill saw his first shots fired in anger during a semi-official expedition to Cuba later that year. He enjoyed the experience which coincided with his 21st birthday.

In 1897 Churchill saw more action on the North West Frontier of India, fighting against the Pathans. He rode his grey pony along the skirmish lines in full view of the enemy. “Foolish perhaps,” he told his mother, ” but I play for high stakes and given an audience there is no act too daring and too noble.” Churchill wrote about his experiences in his first book The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898). He soon became an accomplished war reporter, getting paid large sums for stories he sent to the press – something which did not make him popular with his senior officers.

Using his mother’s influence, Churchill got himself assigned to Kitchener’s army in Egypt. While fighting against the Dervishes he took part in the last great cavalry charge in English history – at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

The Politician

Churchill was first elected to parliament in 1900 shortly before the death of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as the Conservative Member for Oldham in February 1901 and made his maiden speech four days later. But after only four years as a Conservative he crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, making the flamboyant gesture of sitting next to one of the leading radicals, David Lloyd George.

Churchill rose swiftly within the Liberal ranks and became a Cabinet Minister in 1908 – President of the Board of Trade. In this capacity and as Home Secretary (1910-11) he helped to lay the foundations of the post-1945 welfare state.

His parliamentary career was far from being plain sailing and he made a number of spectacular blunders, so much so that he was often accused of having genius without judgement. The chief setback of his career occurred in 1915 when, as First Lord of the Admiralty, he sent a naval force to the Dardanelles in an attempt to knock Turkey out of the war and to outflank Germany on a continental scale. The expedition was a disaster and it marked the lowest point in Churchill’s fortunes.

However, Churchill could not be kept out of power for long and Lloyd George, anxious to draw on his talents and to spike his critical guns, soon re-appointed him to high office. Their relationship was not always a comfortable one, particularly when Churchill tried to involve Britain in a crusade against the Bolsheviks in Russia after the Great War.

Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal Party and, after some hesitation, rejoined the Conservatives. Anyone could “rat”, he remarked complacently, but it took a certain ingenuity to “re-rat”. To his surprise, Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin, an office in which he served from 1924 to 1929. He was an ebullient if increasingly anachronistic figure, returning Britain to the Gold Standard and taking an aggressive part in opposing the General Strike of 1926.

After the Tories were defeated in 1929, Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving India further self-government. Churchill became more and more isolated in politics and he found the experience of perpetual opposition deeply frustrating. He also made further blunders, notably by supporting King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis of 1936. Largely as a consequence of such errors, people did not heed Churchill’s dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the hopelessness of the appeasement policy. After the Munich crisis, however, Churchill’s prophecies were seen to be coming true and when war broke out in September 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appointed him First Lord of the Admiralty. So, nearly twenty-five years after he had left the post in pain and sorrow, the Navy sent out a signal to the Fleet: “Winston is back”.

The War Leader

For the first nine months of the conflict, Churchill proved that he was, as Admiral Fisher had once said, “a war man”. Chamberlain was not. Consequently the failures of the Norwegian Campaign were blamed on the pacific Prime Minister rather than the belligerent First Lord, and, when Chamberlain resigned after criticisms in the House of Commons, Churchill became leader of a coalition government. The date was May 10, 1940: it was Churchill’s, as well as Britain’s, finest hour.

When the German armies conquered France and Britain faced the Blitz, Churchill embodied his country’s will to resist. His oratory proved an inspiration. When asked exactly what Churchill did to win the war, Clement Attlee, the Labour leader who served in the coalition government, replied: “Talk about it.” Churchill talked incessantly, in private as well as in public – to the astonishment of his private secretary, Jock Colville, he once spent an entire luncheon addressing himself exclusively to the marmalade cat.

Churchill devoted much of his energy to trying to persuade President Roosevelt to support him in the war. He wrote the President copious letters and established a strong personal relationship with him. And he managed to get American help in the Atlantic, where until 1943 Britain’s lifeline to the New World was always under severe threat from German U-Boats.

Despite Churchill’s championship of Edward VIII, and despite his habit of arriving late for meetings with the neurotically punctual King at Buckingham Palace, he achieved good relations with George VI and his family. Clementine once said that Winston was the last surviving believer in the divine right of kings.

As Churchill tried to forge an alliance with the United States, Hitler made him the gift of another powerful ally – the Soviet Union. Despite his intense hatred of the Communists, Churchill had no hesitation in sending aid to Russia and defending Stalin in public. “If Hitler invaded Hell,” he once remarked, “I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

In December 1941, six months after Hitler had invaded Russia, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The war had now become a global one. But with the might of America on the Allied side there could be no doubt about its outcome. Churchill was jubilant, remarking when he heard the news of Pearl Harbor: “So we have won after all!”

However, America’s entry into the war also caused Churchill problems; as he said, the only thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting a war without them. At first, despite disasters such as the Japanese capture of Singapore early in 1942, Churchill was able to influence the Americans. He persuaded Roosevelt to fight Germany before Japan, and to follow the British strategy of trying to slit open the “soft underbelly” of Europe. This involved the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy – the last of which proved to have a very well armoured belly.

It soon became apparent that Churchill was the littlest of the “Big Three”. At the Teheran Conference in November, 1943, he said, the “poor little English donkey” was squeezed between the great Russian bear and the mighty American buffalo, yet only he knew the way home.

In June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy and the Americans were clearly in command. General Eisenhower pushed across Northern Europe on a broad front. Germany was crushed between this advance and the Russian steamroller. On May 8, 1945 Britain accepted Germany’s surrender and celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Churchill told a huge crowd in Whitehall: “This is your victory.” The people shouted: “No, it is yours”, and Churchill conducted them in the singing of Land of Hope and Glory. That evening he broadcast to the nation urging the defeat of Japan and paying fulsome homage to the Crown.

From all over the world Churchill received telegrams of congratulations, and he himself was generous with plaudits, writing warmly to General de Gaulle whom he regarded as an awkward ally but a bastion against French Communism. But although victory was widely celebrated throughout Britain, the war in the Far East had a further three months to run. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally brought the global conflict to a conclusion. But at the pinnacle of military victory, Churchill tasted the bitterness of political defeat.

The Elder Statesman

Churchill expected to win the election of 1945. Everything pointed to his victory, from the primitive opinion polls to the cartoons in newspapers and the adulation Churchill received during the campaign, but he did not conduct it well. From the start he accused the Labour leaders – his former colleagues – of putting party before country and he later said that Socialists could not rule without a political police, a Gestapo. As it happened, such gaffes probably made no difference. The political tide was running against the Tories and towards the party which wholeheartedly favoured a welfare state – the reward for war-time sacrifices. But Churchill was shocked by the scale of his defeat. When Clementine, who wanted him to retire from politics, said that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise, Churchill replied that the blessing was certainly very effectively disguised. For a time he lapsed into depression, which sympathetic letters from friends did little to dispel.

Soon, however, Churchill re-entered the political arena, taking an active part in political life from the opposition benches and broadcasting again to the nation after the victory over Japan. In defeat Churchill had always been defiant, but in victory he favoured magnanimity. Within a couple of years he was calling for a partnership between a “spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany” as the basis for the re-creation of “the European family”. He was more equivocal about Britain’s role in his proposed “United States of Europe”, and, while the embers of the World War II were still warm, he announced the start of the Cold War. At Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, he pointed to the new threat posed by the Soviet Union and declared that an iron curtain had descended across Europe. Only by keeping the alliance between the English-speaking peoples strong, he maintained, could Communist tyranny be resisted.

After losing another election in 1950, Churchill gained victory at the polls the following year. Publicly he called for “several years of quiet steady administration”. Privately he declared that his policy was “houses, red meat and not getting scuppered”. This he achieved. But after suffering a stroke and the failure of his last hope of arranging a Summit with the Russians, he resigned from the premiership in April 1955.

“I am ready to meet my Maker,” Churchill had said on his seventy-fifth birthday; “whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter”. Churchill remained a member of parliament, though an inactive one, and announced his retirement from politics in 1963. This took effect at the general election the following year. Churchill died on 24 January 1965 – seventy years to the day after the death of his father. He received the greatest state funeral given to a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington. He was buried in Bladon churchyard beside his parents and within sight of his birthplace, Blenheim Palace.

The Family Man

In the autumn of 1908 Churchill, then a rising Liberal politician, married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie. Their marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were often quarrels – Clementine once threw a dish of spinach at Winston (it missed). Clementine was high principled and highly strung; Winston was stubborn and ambitious. His work invariably came first, though, partly as a reaction against his own upbringing, he was devoted to his children.

Winston and Clementine’s first child, Diana, was born in 1909. Diana was a naughty little girl and continued to cause her parents great distress as an adult. In 1932 she married John Bailey, but the marriage was unsuccessful and they divorced in 1935. In that year she married the Conservative politician, Duncan Sandys, and they had three children. That marriage also proved a failure. Diana had several nervous breakdowns and in 1963 she committed suicide.

The Churchills’ second child and only son, Randolph, was born in 1911. He was exceptionally handsome and rumbustious, and his father was very ambitious for him. During the 1930s Randolph stood for parliament several times but he failed to get in, being regarded as a political maverick. He did serve as Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston between 1940 and 1945, and ultimately became an extremely successful journalist and began the official biography of his father during the 1960s.

Randolph was married twice, first in 1939 to Pamela Digby (later Harriman) by whom he had a son, Winston, and secondly in 1948 to June Osborne by whom he had a daughter, Arabella. Neither marriage was a success.

The life of Sarah, the Churchills’ third child, born in 1914, was no happier than that of her elder siblings. Amateur dramatics at Chartwell led her to take up a career on the stage which flourished for a time. Sarah’s charm and vitality were also apparent in her private life, but her first two marriages proved unsuccessful and she was widowed soon after her third. Her first husband was a music hall artist called Vic Oliver whom she married against her parents’ wishes. Her second was Anthony Beauchamp but this marriage did not last and after their separation he committed suicide.

In 1918 Clementine Churchill gave birth to a third girl, Marigold. But in 1921, shortly after the deaths of both Clementine’s brother and Winston’s mother, Marigold contracted septicaemia whilst on a seaside holiday with the childrens’ governess. When she died Winston was grief-stricken and, as his last private secretary recently disclosed in an autobiography, Clementine screamed like an animal undergoing torture.

The following September the Churchills’ fifth and last child, Mary, was born. Unlike her brother and older sisters, Mary was to cause her parents no major worries. Indeed she was a constant source of support, especially to her mother. In 1947 she married Christopher Soames; who was then Assistant Military Attaché in Paris and later had a successful parliamentary and diplomatic career. Theirs was to be a long and happy marriage. Over the years Christopher became a valued confidant and counsellor to his father-in-law. They had five children, the eldest of whom (Nicholas) became a prominent member of the Conservative party. Christopher Soames died in 1987.

The Private Man

Churchill’s enormous reserves of energy and his legendary ability to exist on very little sleep gave him time to pursue a wide variety of interests outside the world of politics.

Churchill loved gambling and lost what was, for him, a small fortune in the great crash of the American stock market in October 1929, causing a severe setback to the family finances. But he continued to write as a means of maintaining the style of life to which he had always been accustomed. Apart from his major works, notably his multi-volume histories of the First and Second World Wars and the Life of his illustrious ancestor John, first Duke of Marlborough, he poured forth speeches and articles for newspapers and magazines. His last big book was the History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which he had begun in 1938 and which was eventually published in the 1950s. In 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Churchill took up painting as an antidote to the anguish he felt over the Dardanelles disaster. Painting became a constant solace and preoccupation and he rarely spent a few days away from home without taking his canvas and brushes. Even during his tour of France’s Maginot Line in the middle of August 1939 Churchill managed to snatch a painting holiday with friends near Dreux.

In the summer of 1922, while on the lookout for a suitable country house, Churchill caught sight of a property near Westerham in Kent, and fell instantly in love with it. Despite Clementine’s initial lack of enthusiasm for the dilapidated and neglected house, with its overgrown and seemingly unmanageable grounds, Chartwell was to become a much-loved family home. Clementine, however, never quite overcame her resentment of the fact that Winston had been less than frank with her over the buying of Chartwell, and from time to time her feelings surfaced.

With typical enthusiasm, Churchill personally undertook many major works of construction at Chartwell such as a dam, a swimming pool, the building (largely with his own hands) of a red brick wall to surround the vegetable garden, and the re-tiling of a cottage at the bottom of the garden. In 1946 Churchill bought a farm adjoining Chartwell and subsequently derived much pleasure, though little profit, from farming.

Churchill was born into the world of hunting, shooting and fishing and throughout his life they were to prove spasmodic distractions. But it was hunting and polo, first learned as a young cavalry officer in India, that he enjoyed most of all.

In the summer of 1949, Churchill embarked on a new venture – he bought a racehorse. On the advice of Christopher Soames, he purchased a grey three-year-old colt, Colonist II. It was to be the first of several thoroughbreds in his small stud. They were registered in Lord Randolph’s colours – pink with chocolate sleeves and cap. (These have been adopted as the colours of Churchill College.) Churchill was made a member of the Jockey Club in 1950, and greatly relished the distinction.

Among Winston’s closest friends were Professor Lindemann and the “the three B’s” (none popular with Clementine), Birkenhead, Beaverbook, Bracken. The Churchills entertained widely, including among their guests Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Lawrence of Arabia. Churchill regularly holidayed with rich friends in the Mediterranean, spending several cruises in the late 1950s as the guest of Greek millionaire shipowner, Aristotle Onassis.

Editorial note

Much of the information presented here was originally compiled by Josephine Sykes, Monica Halpin and Victor Brown. It was edited by Allen Packwood.

Churchill Archives Centre

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Biography of Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the UK

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Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874–January 24, 1965) was a legendary orator, a prolific writer, an earnest artist, and a long-term British statesman. Yet Churchill, who twice served as prime minister of the United Kingdom, is best remembered as the tenacious and forthright war leader that led his country against the seemingly undefeatable Nazis during World War II .

Fast Facts: Winston Churchill

  • Known For : Prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II
  • Also Known As : Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
  • Born : November 30, 1874 in Blenheim, Oxfordshire, England
  • Parents : Lord Randolph Churchill, Jennie Jerome
  • Died : January 24, 1965 in Kensington, London, England
  • Education : Harrow School, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
  • Published Works:   Marlborough: His Life and Times , The Second World War , six volumes, A History of the English- Speaking Peoples , four volumes, The World Crisis , My Early Life
  • Awards and Honors : Privy Council of the United Kingdom, Order of Merit, Honorary Citizen of the United States, Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Spouse : Clementine Hozier
  • Children : Diana, Randolph, Marigold, Sarah, Mary
  • Notable Quote : "The mood of Britain is wisely and rightly averse from every form of shallow or premature exultation. This is no time for boasts or glowing prophecies, but there is this—a year ago our position looked forlorn, and well nigh desperate, to all eyes but our own. Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world, ‘We are still masters of our fate. We still are captain of our souls."

Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874 at his grandfather's home, Blenheim Palace in Marlborough, England . His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a member of the British Parliament and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American heiress. Six years after Winston's birth, his brother Jack was born.

Since Churchill's parents traveled extensively and led busy social lives, Churchill spent most of his younger years with his nanny, Elizabeth Everest. It was Mrs. Everest who nurtured Churchill and cared for him during his many childhood illnesses. Churchill stayed in touch with her until her death in 1895.

At age 8, Churchill was sent off to boarding school. He was never an excellent student but he was well-liked and was known as a bit of a troublemaker. In 1887, the 12-year-old Churchill was accepted to the prestigious Harrow school, where he began studying military tactics.

After graduating from Harrow, Churchill was accepted into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1893. In December 1894, Churchill graduated near the top of his class and was given a commission as a cavalry officer.

Churchill, the Soldier and War Correspondent

After seven months of basic training, Churchill was given his first leave. Instead of going home to relax, Churchill wanted to see action; so he traveled to Cuba to watch Spanish troops put down a rebellion. Churchill didn't go just as an interested soldier, however. He made plans to be a war correspondent for London's The Daily Graphic . It was the beginning of a long writing career.

When his leave was up, Churchill traveled with his regiment to India. Churchill also saw action in India when fighting Afghan tribes. This time, again not just a soldier, Churchill wrote letters to London's The Daily Telegraph . From these experiences, Churchill also wrote his first book, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" (1898).

Churchill then joined Lord Kitchener's expedition in the Sudan while also writing for The Morning Post . After seeing a lot of action in the Sudan, Churchill used his experiences to write "The River War" (1899).

Again wanting to be at the scene of the action, Churchill managed in 1899 to become the war correspondent for The Morning Post during the Boer War in South Africa. Not only was Churchill shot at, but he was also captured. After spending nearly a month as a prisoner of war, Churchill managed to escape and miraculously made it to safety. He also turned these experiences into a book he titled, "London to Ladysmith via Pretoria" (1900).

Becoming a Politician

While fighting in all these wars, Churchill decided he wanted to help make policy, not just follow it. So when the 25-year-old returned to England as both a famous author and a war hero, he was able to successfully run for election as a member of Parliament (MP). This was the start of Churchill's very long political career.

Churchill quickly became known for being outspoken and full of energy. He gave speeches against tariffs and in support of social changes for the poor. It soon became clear that he did not hold the beliefs of the Conservative Party, so he switched to the Liberal Party in 1904.

In 1905, the Liberal Party won the national election and Churchill was asked to become the under-secretary of state at the Colonial Office.

Churchill's dedication and efficiency earned him an excellent reputation and he was quickly promoted. In 1908, he was made president of the Board of Trade (a cabinet position) and in 1910, Churchill was made home secretary (a more important cabinet position).

In October 1911, Churchill was made first lord of the Admiralty, which meant he was in charge of the British Navy. Worried about Germany's growing military strength, he spent the next three years working diligently to strengthen the service.

Churchill was a very busy man. He was nearly continuously writing books, articles, and speeches while holding important government positions. However, he made time for romance when he met Clementine Hozier in March 1908. The two were engaged on August 11 of that same year and married just a month later on September 12, 1908.

Winston and Clementine had five children together and remained married until Winston's death at age 90.

Churchill and World War I

When the war began in 1914, Churchill was praised for the work he had done behind the scenes to prepare Great Britain for war. However, things quickly started to go badly for him.

Churchill had always been energetic, determined, and confident. Couple these traits with the fact that Churchill liked to be part of the action and you have Churchill trying to have his hands in all military matters, not only those dealing with the navy. Many felt that Churchill overstepped his position.

Then came the Dardanelles campaign. It was meant to be a combined naval and infantry attack on the Dardanelles in Turkey, but when things went badly for the British, Churchill was blamed for the whole thing.

Since both the public and officials turned against Churchill after the Dardanelles disaster, Churchill was swiftly moved out of government.

Forced Out of Politics

Churchill was devastated to have been forced out of politics. Although he was still a member of Parliament, it just wasn't enough to keep such an active man busy. Churchill became depressed and worried that his political life was completely over.

It was during this time that Churchill learned to paint. It started as a way for him to escape the doldrums, but like everything he did, he worked diligently to improve himself. Churchill continued to paint for the rest of his life.

For nearly two years, Churchill was kept out of politics. Then in July 1917, Churchill was invited back and given the position of minister of munitions. The following year, he was named secretary of state for war and air, which put him in charge of bringing all the British soldiers home.

A Decade in Politics and a Decade Out

The 1920s had its ups and downs for Churchill. In 1921, he was made the secretary of state for the British colonies but only a year later he lost his MP seat while in the hospital with acute appendicitis.

Out of office for two years, Churchill found himself leaning again toward the Conservative Party. In 1924, Churchill won a seat as an MP, but this time with Conservative backing. Considering he had just returned to the Conservative Party, Churchill was quite surprised to be given the very important position of chancellor of the exchequer in the new conservative government that same year. Churchill held this position for nearly five years.

In addition to his political career, Churchill spent the 1920s writing his monumental, six-volume work on World War I called The World Crisis (1923-1931).

When the Labour Party won the national election in 1929, Churchill was once again out of government. For 10 years, he held his MP seat but did not hold a major government position. However, this didn't slow him down.

Churchill continued to write, finishing a number of books including his autobiography, My Early Life . He continued to give speeches, many of them warning of Germany's growing power. He also continued to paint and learned bricklaying.

By 1938, Churchill was speaking out openly against British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's plan of appeasement with Nazi Germany. When Nazi Germany attacked Poland, Churchill's fears had proved correct. The public once again realized that Churchill had seen this coming.

After 10 years out of the government, on September 3, 1939, just two days after Nazi Germany attacked Poland, Churchill was asked to once again become the first lord of the Admiralty.

Churchill Leads Great Britain in WWII

When Nazi Germany attacked France on May 10, 1940, it was time for Chamberlain to step down as prime minister. Appeasement hadn't worked; it was time for action. The same day that Chamberlain resigned, King George VI asked Churchill to become prime minister.

Just three days later, Churchill gave his "Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat" speech in the House of Commons. This speech was just the first of many morale-boosting speeches made by Churchill to inspire the British to keep fighting against a seemingly invincible enemy.

Churchill spurred himself and everyone around him to prepare for war. He also actively courted the United States to join in the hostilities against Nazi Germany. Also, despite Churchill's extreme dislike for the communist Soviet Union, his pragmatic side realized he needed their help.

By joining forces with both the United States and the Soviet Union, Churchill not only saved Britain but helped save all of Europe from the domination of Nazi Germany.

Falls Out of Power, Then Back in Again

Although Churchill was given credit for inspiring his nation to win World War II , by the end of the war in Europe, many felt he had lost touch with the daily lives of the people. After suffering through years of hardship, the public didn't want to go back to the hierarchical society of pre-war Britain. They wanted change and equality.

On July 15, 1945, the election results from the national election came in and the Labour Party had won. The following day, Churchill, age 70, resigned as prime minister.

Churchill remained active. In 1946, he went on a lecture tour in the United States that included his very famous speech, "The Sinews of Peace," in which he warned of an "iron curtain" descending upon Europe. Churchill also continued to make speeches in the House of Commons and to relax at his home and paint.

Churchill also continued to write. He used this time to start his six-volume work, The Second World War (1948-1953).

Six years after resigning as prime minister, Churchill was again asked to lead Britain. On October 26, 1951, Churchill began his second term as prime minister of the United Kingdom.

During his second term, Churchill focused on foreign affairs because he was very worried about the atomic bomb . On June 23, 1953, Churchill suffered a severe stroke. Although the public wasn't told about it, those close to Churchill thought he would have to resign. Surprising everyone, Churchill recovered from the stroke and got back to work.

On April 5, 1955, 80-year-old Winston Churchill resigned as prime minister due to failing health.

In his final retirement, Churchill continued to write, finishing his four-volume A History of the English Speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Churchill also continued to give speeches and to paint.

During his later years, Churchill earned three impressive awards. On April 24, 1953, Churchill was made knight of the garter by Queen Elizabeth II , making him Sir Winston Churchill. Later that same year, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ten years later, on April 9, 1963, President John F. Kennedy awarded Churchill with honorary U.S. citizenship.

In June 1962, Churchill broke his hip after falling out of his hotel bed. On January 10, 1965, he suffered a massive stroke. He fell into a coma and died on January 24, 1965, at age 90. Churchill had remained a member of Parliament until a year before his death.

Churchill was a gifted statesman, writer, painter, orator, and soldier. Probably his most significant legacy is as a statesman who led his nation and the world during World War II. Both his actions and his words had a profound impact on the outcome of the war.

  • “ The International Churchill Society .”
  • Nicholas, Herbert G. “ Winston Churchill .”  Encyclopædia Britannica , 26 Mar. 2019.
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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill profile photography

Early life and education

Born on November 30, 1874, Winston Churchill was the son of Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome. Lord Randolph Churchill acted as the Chancellor of the Exchequer (who takes care of financial matters) in England; Jennie was the daughter of an American businessperson. For a brief period of his childhood, Churchill lived in Dublin, where his grandfather was appointed Viceroy. Churchill had a speech impediment for most of his childhood that he worked hard to overcome. Eventually, he became a very successful orator. This was not predicted by his school experience, however, as he often received bad marks. However, once he was accepted into the Royal Military College, he began to seriously apply himself and graduated in the top 15% of his class.

A family of his own

In 1904, Churchill met Clementine Hozier at an elite function. Four years later, they met once again at a dinner party. They began dating, and in August of 1908, Churchill proposed to Clementine. Approximately one month later, they were married at St. Margaret’s Church, in Westminster. Winston and Clementine had five children together (Diana, Randolph, Sarah, Marigold, and Mary); Marigold died as a toddler of septicaemia.

Churchill’s military service

Churchill attended the Royal Military College, and chose to be in the calvary. In 1895, he became a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. He then made his way to Cuba to observe and write about Cuban guerrilla warfare. After Cuba, he was moved to India, and narrowly missed becoming involved in the Greco-Turkish War. In 1898 he was transferred to Egypt, quickly returned to Britain, and began writing “The River War,” a two volume work telling of the reacquisition of Sudan. On May 5, 1899, Churchill resigned from the British Army. Much later, in 1941, he was appointed Regimental Colonel of the 4th Hussars. After World War II, he became Colonel in Chief, which is a position usually saved specifically for royalty.

Churchill’s years in government

After winning the seat of Oldham in Parliament in 1900, Churchill went on a tour throughout Britain and the US, during which he raised a substantial amount of money for his campaigning purposes. Throughout the following years, he held several different seats in Parliament. He helped several major changes pass through Parliament, such as the Budget League’s new taxes on the wealthy to allow for welfare systems and programs to be set up. This act, along with several other events, made the talk of Churchill’s actions very controversial. Although he identified with the conservative party in Parliament, he was receiving criticism from both sides at one point.

Churchill and World War I

Churchill was in Antwerp on October 5, 1914. The government wanted to evacuate, but did not. Instead, Antwerp collapsed on October 10, losing 2500 men. Churchill managed to get naval funding to finance the development of the tank. At the time, everyone thought it was a waste of money; within a decade, the tank would eventually be considered a tactical win. In 1915, he resigned from the government and rejoined the army.

Churchill and World War II – “Winston is back”

After a tumultuous career in politics, Churchill was once again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty on September 3, 1939. His position proved to be excessively highly publicized and criticized. In 1940, after the Chamberlain’s resignation due to others’ fear he would not properly execute the war, Churchill was appointed Prime Minister. Churchill refused any type of agreement or alliance with Germany, which paved the way for Allied attacks later on. He realized the importance of an alliance with the United States and quickly secured their support. Roosevelt provided Churchill and Britain with food and arms in return for little to no money. Roosevelt explained to Congress that, in a way, these actions were providing a defense for the US.

World War II speeches:

  • May 13, 1940: Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Sweat and Tears” speech
  • June 4, 1940: Churchill’s “Fight on the Beaches” speech

Victory speech:

As WWII came to an end and Germany was defeated, Churchill proudly announced a victory to his people. You can listen to the Sinews of Peace Address at Westminster College .

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winston churchill biography for students

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Winston Churchill

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