Winston Churchill as writer

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Churchill at his desk in 1940

Winston Churchill, in addition to his careers of soldier and politician, was a prolific writer under the pen name 'Winston S. Churchill'. After being commissioned into the 4th Queen's Own Hussars in 1895, Churchill gained permission to observe the Cuban War of Independence, and sent war reports to The Daily Graphic. He continued his war journalism in British India, at the Siege of Malakand, then in the Sudan during the Mahdist War and in southern Africa during the Second Boer War.

Churchill's fictional output included one novel and a short story, but his main output comprised non-fiction. After he was elected as an MP, over 130 of his speeches or parliamentary answers were also published in pamphlets or booklets; many were subsequently published in collected editions. Churchill received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".[1]

Writing career[edit]

Churchill, age 21, as a cornet in the 4th Queens Own Hussars in 1895

In 1895 Winston Churchill was commissioned cornet (second lieutenant) into the 4th Queen's Own Hussars. His annual pay was £300, and he calculated he needed an additional £500 to support a style of life equal to that of other officers of the regiment.[2][a] To earn the required funds, he gained his colonel's agreement to observe the Cuban War of Independence; his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, used her influence to secure a contract for her son to send war reports to The Daily Graphic.[4] He was subsequently posted back to his regiment, then based in British India, where he took part in, and reported on the Siege of Malakand; the reports were published in The Pioneer and The Daily Telegraph.[5][4] The reports formed the basis of his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, which was published in 1898.[6] To relax he also wrote his only novel, Savrola, which was published in 1898.[7] That same year he was transferred to the Sudan to take part in the Mahdist War (1881–1899), where he participated in the Battle of Omdurman in September 1898. He published his recollections in The River War (1899).[8][6]

In 1899 Churchill resigned his commission and travelled to South Africa as the correspondent with The Morning Post, on a salary of £250 a month plus all expenses, to report on the Second Boer War.[9][b] He was captured by the Boers in November that year, but managed to escape. He remained in the country and continued to send in his reports to the newspaper. He subsequently published his despatches in two works, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton's March (both 1900).[4] He returned to Britain in 1900 and was elected as the Member of parliament for the Oldham constituency at that year's general election.[10]

A man working at a desk looks toward the camera; he wears the uniform of a British army officer
Randolph Churchill, Winston's son, who edited the published collections of his father's speeches; photographed by Cecil Beaton during the Second World War.

As a serving MP he began publishing pamphlets containing his speeches or answers to key parliamentary questions. Beginning with Mr Winston Churchill on the Education Bill (1902), over 135 such tracts were published over his career.[11] Many of these were subsequently compiled into collections, several of which were edited by his son, Randolph and others of which were edited by Charles Eade, the editor of the Sunday Dispatch.[12][13] In addition to his parliamentary duties, Churchill wrote a two-volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, published in 1906, in which he "presented his father as a tory with increasingly radical sympathies", according to the historian Paul Addison.[9]

In the 1923 general election Churchill lost his parliamentary seat and moved to the south of France where he wrote The World Crisis, a six-volume history of the First World War, published between 1923 and 1931. The book was well-received, although the former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour dismissed the work as "Winston's brilliant autobiography, disguised as world history".[14] At the 1924 general election Churchill returned to the Commons.[9] In 1930 he wrote his first autobiography, My Early Life, after which he began his researches for Marlborough: His Life and Times (1933–1938), a four-volume biography of his ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.[15] Before the final volume was published, Churchill wrote a series of biographical profiles for newspapers, which were later collected together and published as Great Contemporaries (1937).[9]

In May 1940, eight months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill became Prime Minister. He wrote no histories during his tenure, although several collections of his speeches were published.[16][17] At the end of the war he was voted out of office at the 1945 election; he returned to writing and, with a research team headed by the historian William Deakin, produced a six-volume history, The Second World War (1948–1953). The books became a best-seller in both the UK and US.[17][18] Churchill served as Prime Minister for a second time between October 1951 and April 1955 before resigning the premiership; he continued to serve as an MP until 1964. His final major work was the four-volume work A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956–1958).[19] In 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".[1] Churchill was almost always well paid as an author and, for most of his life, writing was his main source of income. He produced a huge portfolio of written work; the journalist and historian Paul Johnson estimates that Churchill wrote an estimated eight to ten million words in more than forty books, thousands of newspaper and magazine articles,[4][20] and at least two film scripts.[21] John Gunther in 1939 estimated that he earned $100,000 a year ($1.49 million in 2020) from writing and lecturing, but that "of this he spends plenty".[22]

When demand was high for his newspaper and magazine articles, Churchill employed a ghostwriter.[23] During 1934, for example, Churchill was commissioned by Collier's, the News of the World, the Daily Mail - and, added that year, the Sunday Dispatch, for which the newspaper's editor, William Blackwood, employed Adam Marshall Diston to rework Churchill's old material (Churchill himself would write one new piece in every four published by the Dispatch).[23] Later in the year, when Churchill had less time to write, at the recommendation of Blackwood he employed Diston directly as his ghostwriter.[23] Diston wrote, for example, Churchill's remaining Collier's articles for the year, being paid £15 from the £350 commission Churchill received for each article.[23] Blackwood considered Diston a 'splendid journalist' and his first article written for Churchill went to print without change - this, according to David Lough, 'was the start of a partnership that would flourish for the rest of the decade'.[23] By the end of the following year, Diston had already prepared most of Churchill's 'The Great Men I Have Known' series for the News of the World in Britain and Collier's in the US, due to appear from January 1936. Sir Emsley Carr, the British newspaper's chairman, enjoyed them so much he immediately signed up Churchill for a series in 1937.[23] The News of the World would pay nearly £400 (£12,000 today) an article.[24] Another of Churchill's ghostwriters was his Private Secretary Edward Marsh (who would at times receive up to 10% of Churchill's commission).[24][25]

American novelist of the same name[edit]

In the late 1890s, Churchill's writings first came to be confused with those of his American contemporary Winston Churchill, a best-selling novelist. He wrote to his American counterpart about the confusion their names were causing among their readers, offering to sign his own works "Winston Spencer Churchill", adding the first half of his double-barrelled surname, Spencer-Churchill, which he did not otherwise use. After a few early editions the middle name was turned into an initial, his pen name subsequently appearing as "Winston S. Churchill".

The two men met on occasions when one of them happened to be in the other's country, but their diametrically opposed personalities prevented the development of a close friendship.[26]


Cover of The River War, 1899, showing the original form of his pen name
Three-quarter length photograph of Churchill staring into the camera
Churchill in Canada in December 1941
Statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, London
The non-fiction work of Churchill
Title[27][28][29][30][31] Year of first
First edition publisher Notes
The Story of the Malakand Field Force 1898 Longman, London
The River War 1899 Longman, London Edited by Colonel Francis Rhodes; two volumes; reissued in 1901 as a single work
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria 1900 Longman, London & New York
Ian Hamilton's March 1900 Longman, London & New York
Lord Randolph Churchill 1906 Macmillan Publishers, London Two volumes
My African Journey 1908 Hodder & Stoughton, London
The World Crisis 1923–1931 Butterworth, London Six volumes; abridged and revised into one volume in 1931
  1. 1911–1914 (1923)
  2. 1915 (1923)
  3. 1916–1918 (Part 1) (1927)
  4. 1916–1918 (Part 2) (1927)
  5. The Aftermath (1929)
  6. The Eastern Front (1931)
My Early Life 1930 Butterworth, London Published in the US as A Roving Commission: My Early Life
Thoughts and Adventures 1932 Butterworth, London Published in the US as Amid These Storms
Marlborough: His Life and Times 1933–1938 Butterworth, London Four volumes
Great Contemporaries 1937 Butterworth, London Revised and enlarged edition published in 1938
The Second World War 1948–1953 Cassell, London Six volumes, consisting of:
  1. The Gathering Storm (1948)
  2. Their Finest Hour (1949)
  3. The Grand Alliance (1950)
  4. The Hinge of Fate (1950)
  5. Closing the Ring (1951)
  6. Triumph and Tragedy (1953)
Painting as a Pastime 1948 Odhams Press, London
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples 1956–1958 Cassell, London Four volumes, consisting of:
  1. The Birth of Britain (1956)
  2. The New World (1956)
  3. The Age of Revolution (1957)
  4. The Great Democracies (1958)


Title page of the 1900 edition of Savrola
Churchill's fictional work
Title[27][32] Year of first
First edition publisher Notes
"Man Overboard; an Episode of the Red Sea" 1898 Harmsworth Brothers, London Written in youth. First published work of fiction. Appeared in The Harmsworth Magazine issue of December 1898.
Savrola 1900 Longman, London Novel; first appeared in serial form in Macmillan's Magazine 1898–1900
"If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg" in If It Had Happened Otherwise 1931 Sidgwick and Jackson, London With others
"The Dream" 1987 Churchill Literary Foundation, New Hampshire Short story; first written in 1947 and first published as a feature in The Sunday Telegraph in January 1966, then as part of The Collected Essays in 1976. The Dream was not published in book form until September 1987, four decades after it was written and more than 22 years after Churchill's death.

Collected speeches[edit]

Churchill addressing merchant ships' crews and dockers at Liverpool, April 1941
Churchill at a BBC microphone about to broadcast to the nation on the afternoon of VE Day, 8 May 1945.
Churchill in mid-speech, his tight hand held in rhetorical pose
Churchill during the 1945 General Election

There are around 135 published booklets of Churchill's individual speeches, including "Mr Winston Churchill on the Education Bill" (1902), "The Fiscal Puzzle: Both Sides Explained by Leading Men'" (1903), "Why I am a Free Trader" (1905) and "Prisons and Prisoners" (1910); the following are speeches published in a collected form.[33][34]

Collected books of Churchill's speeches
Title[27][28][29][33] Year of first
First edition publisher Notes
Mr Broderick's Army 1903 Humphreys, London
For Free Trade 1906 Humphreys, London
Liberalism and the Social Problem 1909 Hodder & Stoughton, London
The People's Rights 1910 Hodder & Stoughton, London
Parliamentary Government and the Economic Problem 1930 The Clarendon Press, Oxford
India: Speeches and an Introduction 1931 Butterworth, London
Arms and the Covenant 1938 George G. Harrap and Co., London Edited by Randolph Churchill; published in the US as While England Slept
Step by Step: 1936–1939 1939 Butterworth, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
Addresses Delivered 1940 Ransohoffs, San Francisco
Into Battle 1941 Butterworth, London Edited by Randolph Churchill; published in the US as Blood, Sweat and Tears
Broadcast Addresses 1941 Ransohoffs, San Francisco
The Unrelenting Struggle 1942 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
The End of the Beginning 1943 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister 1943 British Information Services, New York
Onwards to Victory 1944 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
The Dawn of Liberation 1945 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
Victory 1946 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
Secret Sessions Speeches 1946 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade; published in the US as Winston Churchill's Secret Sessions Speeches
War Speeches 1946 Cassell, London Edited by F B Czarnomskí
World Spotlight Turns on Westminster 1946 Westminster College, Fulton, MO
The Sinews of Peace 1948 Cassell, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
Europe Unite: Speeches 1947 and 1948 1950 Cassell, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
In the Balance: Speeches 1949 and 1950 1951 Cassell, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
The War Speeches 1952 Cassell, London Edited by Charles Eade
Stemming the Tide: Speeches 1951 and 1952 1953 Cassell, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
The Wisdom of Sir Winston Churchill 1956 Allen & Unwin, London
The Unwritten Alliance: Speeches 1953 and 1959 1961 Cassell, London Edited by Randolph Churchill
Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1974 Chelsea House, New York Edited by Robert Rhodes James


Churchill, wearing a hat and smoking a cigar, holds a submachine gun
Churchill inspects a 'Tommy gun' while visiting coastal defence positions near Hartlepool on 31 July 1940.
Title[27][28][29][33] Year of first
First edition publisher Notes
Charles, IXth Duke of Marlborough, KG Tributes by Rt Hon W Spencer-Churchill and C C Martindale 1934 Burns, Oates & Co, London With C C Martindale; reprinted from The Times
Maxims and Reflections 1948 Eyre & Spottiswoode, London Collection; revised and enlarged in 1954 as Sir Winston Churchill: A Self-Portrait
The Eagle Book of Adventure Stories 1950 Hulton Press, London With others
King George VI: The Prime Minister's Broadcast, February 7, 1952 1952 A J St Onge, Worcester, MA
Winston Churchill's Anti-Depression Proposal to Halt Inflation, Stabilize Prosperity, and Insure Full Freedom 1958 Public Revenue Education Council, St. Louis, MO
Churchill: His Paintings 1967 Hamish Hamilton, London Compiled by David Coombs and Minnie Churchill (later Mary Soames)
The Roar of the Lion 1969 Allan Wingate, London
Joan of Arc 1969 Dodd, Mead and Company, New York
Winston Churchill on America and Britain: A Selection of His Thoughts on America and Britain 1970 Walker Foreword by Lady Churchill
Young Winston's Wars: The Original Dispatches of Winston S. Churchill, War Correspondent, 1897–1900 1972 Sphere Books, London
Great Issues 71: A Forum on Important Questions Facing the American Public 1972 Troy State University, Troy, AL With John Glubb
If I Lived My Life Again 1974 W H Allen, London
The Collected Poems of Sir Winston Churchill 1981 Sun & Moon Press, College Park, MD Collected and edited by F. John Herbert
Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence 1984 Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Edited with commentary by Warren F. Kimball
Memories and Adventures 1989 Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
Winston Churchill and Emery Reves: Correspondence, 1937–1964 1997 University of Texas Press, Austin, TX
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill 1998 Doubleday, London Edited by Mary Soames

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ £300 in 1895 equates to £36,866 in 2022; £500 in 1895 equates to £61,443 in 2022.[3]
  2. ^ £250 in 1899 equates to £29,939 in 2022.[3]


  1. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1953". Nobel Media. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  2. ^ Jenkins 2012, p. 21.
  3. ^ a b UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Kitzan 2007, p. 330.
  5. ^ Johnson 2009, pp. 12–14.
  6. ^ a b Kitzan 1990, p. 85.
  7. ^ Jenkins 2012, pp. 31–32.
  8. ^ Johnson 2009, p. 331.
  9. ^ a b c d Addison 2004.
  10. ^ Jenkins 2012, p. 65.
  11. ^ Thomas 1987, pp. 4, 8.
  12. ^ Baker 2004.
  13. ^ Thomas 1987, p. 4.
  14. ^ Kitzan 2007, pp. 333–34.
  15. ^ Kitzan 2007, p. 334.
  16. ^ Thomas 1987, pp. 8–9.
  17. ^ a b Kitzan 2007, p. 337.
  18. ^ Johnson 2009, pp. 149–50.
  19. ^ Kitzan 2007, p. 338.
  20. ^ Johnson 2009, p. 11.
  21. ^ Wenden 1993, pp. 231–33.
  22. ^ Gunther, John (1940). Inside Europe. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 330, 332.
  23. ^ a b c d e f David Lough, No More Champagne: Churchill and his Money (London: Head of Zeus, 2015)
  24. ^ a b Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography (Pan Macmillan, 2012)
  25. ^ Frederick Woods, Artillery of Words: The Writings of Sir Winston Churchill (London: Leo Copper, 1992)
  26. ^ Dockter, Warren (October 2011). "The Tale of Two Winstons". The Historian. 11: 10–12.
  27. ^ a b c d "Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill". Contemporary Authors. Gale. Retrieved 14 February 2016. (subscription required)
  28. ^ a b c Kitzan 1990, pp. 83–85.
  29. ^ a b c Kitzan 2007, pp. 327–29.
  30. ^ Thomas 1986, p. 11.
  31. ^ Nudd 1990, p. 12.
  32. ^ Barrett 2000, pp. 43–44.
  33. ^ a b c Thomas 1987, p. 12.
  34. ^ Kitzan 2007, p. 327.


External links[edit]