Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer

Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer,

1874–1965, British statesman, soldier, and author; son of Lord Randolph ChurchillChurchill, Lord Randolph Henry Spencer,
1849–95, English statesman; son of the 7th duke of Marlborough. A sincere Tory and a founder (1883) of the Primrose League, dedicated to upholding national institutions, he was nonetheless opposed to the traditional structure of
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Early Career

Educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, he became (1894) an officer in the 4th hussars. On leave in 1895, he saw his first military action in Cuba as a reporter for London's Daily Graphic. He served in India and in 1898 fought at Omdurman in Sudan under KitchenerKitchener, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl
, 1850–1916, British field marshal and statesman. Trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (1868–70), he had a brief period of service in the French army
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. Having resigned his commission, he was sent (1899) to cover the South African War by the Morning Post, and his accounts of his capture and imprisonment by the Boers and his escape raised him to the forefront of English journalists.

Political Career

Early Government Posts

Churchill was elected to Parliament as a Conservative in 1900, but he subsequently switched to the Liberal party and was appointed undersecretary for the colonies in the cabinet of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. Under Asquith, he was initially (1908–10) president of the Board of Trade, then home secretary (1910–11), and championed innovative labor exchange and old-age pension acts. As first lord of the admiralty (1911), he presided over the naval expansion that preceded World War I.

Discredited by the failure of the Dardanelles expedition, which he had championed, Churchill lost (1915) his admiralty post and served on the front lines in France. Returning to office under Lloyd George, he served as minister of munitions (1917) and secretary of state for war and for air (1918–21). As colonial secretary (1921–22), he helped negotiate the treaty that set up the Irish Free State.

After two defeats at the polls he returned to the House of Commons, as a Constitutionalist, and became (1924–29) chancellor of the exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government. As an advocate of laissez-faire economics, he was strongly criticized by John Maynard KeynesKeynes, John Maynard, Baron Keynes of Tilton
, 1883–1946, English economist and monetary expert, studied at Eton and Cambridge. Early Career and Critique of Versailles
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. Churchill was not a financial innovator; he basically followed conventional advice from his colleagues. Nevertheless, Churchill's decision to return the country to the prewar gold standard increased unemployment and was a cause of the general strike of 1926. He advocated aggressive action to end the strike, and thus earned the lasting distrust of the labor movement.

World War II

Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill wrote and remained in the public eye with his support for Edward VIIIEdward VIII,
1894–1972, king of Great Britain and Ireland (1936), known in later years as the duke of Windsor; eldest son of George V. He attended the naval colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1911 he was made prince of Wales.
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 during the abdication crisis of 1936 and with his extreme distaste for the actions of Mohandas GandhiGandhi, Mohandas Karamchand
, 1869–1948, Indian political and spiritual leader, b. Porbandar. In South Africa

Educated in India and in London, he was admitted to the English bar in 1889 and practiced law unsuccessfully in India for two years.
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 and his vehement opposition to the Indian nationalist movement. He also issued warnings of the threat from Nazi Germany that went unheeded, in part because of his past political and military misjudgments. When World War II broke out (Sept., 1939), Neville ChamberlainChamberlain, Neville
(Arthur Neville Chamberlain), 1869–1940, British statesman; son of Joseph Chamberlain and half-brother of Sir Austen Chamberlain. The first half of his career was spent in business and, after 1911, in the city government of Birmingham, of which he
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 appointed him first lord of the admiralty. The following May, when Chamberlain was forced to resign, Churchill became prime minister.

Churchill was a great orator, and his grand rhetorical style was particularly suited to the terrible struggle England faced. His energy, his will to fight on whatever the cost, and his stubborn public refusal to make peace until Adolf Hitler was crushed were crucial in rallying and maintaining British resistance to Germany during the grim years from 1940 to 1942. He met President Franklin Roosevelt at sea (see Atlantic CharterAtlantic Charter
, joint program of peace aims, enunciated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States on Aug. 14, 1941.
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) before the entry of the United States into the war, twice addressed the U.S. Congress (Dec., 1941; May, 1942), twice went to Moscow (Aug., 1942; May, 1944), visited battle fronts, and attended a long series of international conferences (see Casablanca ConferenceCasablanca Conference,
Jan. 14–24, 1943, World War II meeting of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Casablanca, French Morocco.
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; Quebec ConferenceQuebec Conference,
name of two meetings held in Quebec, Canada, in World War II. The first meeting (Aug., 1943) was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Prime Minister W. L.
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; Cairo ConferenceCairo Conference,
Nov. 22–26, 1943, World War II meeting of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of China at Cairo, Egypt.
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; Tehran ConferenceTehran Conference,
Nov. 28–Dec. 1, 1943, meeting of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin at Tehran, Iran.
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; Yalta ConferenceYalta Conference,
meeting (Feb. 4–11, 1945), at Yalta, Crimea, USSR, of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.
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; Potsdam ConferencePotsdam Conference,
meeting (July 17–Aug. 2, 1945) of the principal Allies in World War II (the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain) to clarify and implement agreements previously reached at the Yalta Conference.
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The Postwar Period

The British nation supported the vigorous program of Churchill's coalition cabinet until after the surrender of Germany. Then in July, 1945, Britain's desire for rapid social reform led to a Labour electoral victory, and Churchill became leader of the opposition. In 1946, on a visit to the United States, he made a controversial speech at Fulton, Mo., in which he warned of the expansive tendencies of the USSR (he had distrusted the Soviet government since its inception, when he had been a leading advocate of Western intervention to overthrow it) and coined the expression "Iron Curtain." Nonetheless, in the early 1950s he attempted to reach some sort of understanding with Stalin, but was unsuccessful largely due to the strong anti-Communist stance of the United States.

As prime minister again from 1951 until his resignation in 1955, he ended nationalization of the steel and auto industries but maintained most other socialist measures instituted by the Labour government. In 1953 Churchill was knighted, and awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature for his writing and oratory. His biographical and autobiographical works include Lord Randolph Churchill (1906), My Early Life: A Roving Commission (1930), and the study of his ancestor Marlborough (4 vol., 1933–38). World Crisis (4 vol., 1923–29) is his account of World War I. The Second World War (6 vol., 1948–53) was followed by A History of the English-speaking Peoples (4 vol., 1956–58). Churchill retained a seat in Parliament until 1964. He refused a peerage, but his widow, Clementine Ogilvy Hozier (married 1908), accepted one in 1965 for her charitable work.

Character and Influence

Churchill was undoubtedly one of the greatest public figures of the 20th cent. Extraordinary vitality, imagination, and boldness characterized his whole career. His weaknesses, such as his opposition (except in the case of Ireland) to the expansion of colonial self-government, and his strengths, evidenced by his brilliant war leadership, sprang from the same source—the will to maintain Britain as a great power and a great democracy.


See his speeches, ed. by R. R. James (8 vol., 1974) and D. Cannadine (1989); R. Langworth, ed., Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations (2008); the multivolume biography by R. Churchill (his son) and M. Gilbert (1966–88), and companion documents ed. by them and L. Arnn (1966–); M. Soames, A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child (2011); biographies by W. Manchester (3 vol., 1983–2012; Vol. III with P. Reid), M. Gilbert (1992), N. Rose (1995), R. Jenkins (2001), J. Keegan (2002), P. Addison (2005), C. D'Este (2008), P. Johnson (2009), and A. Roberts (2018); biographies of the younger Churchill by M. Shelden (2013) and of the older by B. Leaming (2010); A. J. P. Taylor et al., Churchill Revised: A Critical Assessment (1968); R. R. James, Churchill: A Study in Failure, 1900–1939 (1970); P. Addison, Churchill on the Home Front (1992); J. Charmley, Churchill's Grand Alliance (1995); A. Roberts, Eminent Churchillians (1995); J. Lukacs, Churchill (2002); J. Meacham, Franklin and Winston (2003); D. Reynolds, In Command of History (2005); A. Roberts, Masters and Commanders (2009); M. Hastings, Winston's War (2010); R. Holmes, Churchill's Bunker (2010); R. Toye, Churchill's Empire (2010) and The Roar of the Lion (2013); G. Farmelo, Churchill's Bomb (2013); L. James, Churchill and Empire (2014); J. Rose, The Literary Churchill (2014); C. Millard, Hero of the Empire (2016).

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Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is pictured in London on March 28, 1940. AP/WideWorld Photos.

Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874–1965)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Churchill was born on November 30, 1874, at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill and his mother was Jeanette Jerome, an American. After private tutors, Churchill went on to school at Harrow before entering the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He graduated in 1894, ranked eighth in a class of 150. He served as both soldier and journalist in various military conflicts, starting with the Spanish-American war in Cuba. His writing brought him some celebrity and in 1898 he wrote his first novel Savrola. In 1899, he resigned his commission and entered politics, where he eventually rose to be Prime Minister of Great Britain for the turbulent years of World War II.

Churchill’s political career is well known but less known is his interest in psychic matters and the many incidents that occurred throughout his life. In 1940, when Churchill had just been selected as the new Prime Minister, he addressed the nation in a radio broadcast where he referred to Britain’s “physical energy and psychic strength.” In the middle of World War II he said, “Only faith in a life after death, in a brighter world, where dear ones will meet again—only that and the measured tramp of time can give consolation.”

In his early years Churchill experienced automatic writing. As he described it, he had held a pencil “and written while others had touched my wrist or hand. I acted in exactly the same unconscious manner now.” This referred to his escape from being a prisoner of the Boers in Pretoria, during the Boer War. He broke free of his captors and hid aboard a train, and then jumped off in unknown territory. Not knowing whether or not to trust the people in the Kaffir kraal he approached, he relied on his psychic instincts and went straight to one particular house. It turned out to be the only house in the whole area that was sympathetic to the British.

Baroness Asquith revealed that Churchill made a number of predictions in the 1920s and 1930s and that they had all come true. In 1925, Churchill saw a future with the H-bomb, radar, and the V1 and V2 German missiles. He said, “May there not be methods of using explosive energy more intense than anything yet discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to … concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite? Could not explosives … be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot?”

Churchill made a habit of visiting anti-aircraft gun sites at night, during the height of the London blitz. Once he was at a site in Richmond, preparing to leave. Normally he sat on the left side of the car in which he traveled. This time, for no apparent reason, he walked around and got in on the right side. On the way back to London a bomb fell near the car. If he had been sitting in his usual seat the vehicle would undoubtedly have turned over, but with his extra weight on the far side it tipped up on two wheels but then righted itself again. He later said, “It appeared to me I was told I was meant to open the door on the other side and get in and sit there—and that’s what I did.”

One October he was dining at Downing Street when the air raid sirens sounded. He had a flash of inspiration. He later said that in his mind he saw the 25-foot-high plate glass window in the kitchen being blown apart. He summoned the butler and had all the staff taken to the shelter. Within minutes a bomb fell nearby, shattering the window, destroying the kitchen, and sending huge shards of glass about the area. At the end of the war, in 1945, when he had been confident of re-election, he awoke from a deep sleep with the sudden conviction that he would not be continuing as Prime Minister. The next morning the election results confirmed that.

In his retirement, Churchill was working from a photograph and painting a portrait of his deceased father. Suddenly his father appeared, sitting in a nearby leather armchair. Churchill said that they had a good conversation, discussing politics and the changes that had occurred over the years.


Churchill, Winston: The Second World War (6 vols.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948–1954
Leonard, Sue (ed): Quest For the Unknown—Life Beyond Death. Pleasantville: Reader’s Digest, 1992
Ortzen, Tony: The Psychic Life of Britain’s Greatest Premier—Psychic News #3729, December 2003. Stan-stead: Psychic News Press, 2003
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