"I had the good fortune to meet and talk one evening with
Churchill's only son, Randolph, who died in 1968. He told me about
his father's serious and prolonged depressions. He also told me
that his father had periods of high energy when he was forceful,
driving, tireless, and in need of very little sleep. At those
times, Winston seemed to be able to achieve whatever he wished, to
conquer any impossible situation, to succeed brilliantly as a
writer, politician, warrior, or prime minister. From the family
pedigree I would conclude that this was indeed a family in which
moodswing prevailed and had been passed down from generation to
generation. All his life he fought against severe spells of
melancholy - his episodes of "Black Dog" or deep
Dr. Ronald R. Fieve in his book entitled "Moodswing"
Churchill lived a long life and one probably richer in experience
than most in the course of human history. His biography runs to
some eight volumes. It is well known that he suffered throughout
his life from what is now known as bipolar mood disorder - what
used to be called manic-depressive disorder. This really makes his
accomplishments both more astounding and at the same time easier
to understand. Churchill will probably be remembered most fondly
for his iron will and tenacity, and his fearless courage in the
most difficult of circumstances. He had the ability to inspire a
of Inspiration - Churchill's Life and Times
Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on St Andrew's
Day, 30 November 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a
younger son of the Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome,
was the daughter of an American business tycoon.
childhood was privileged but not particularly happy. Like many
Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant
figures. Letters from his schooldays reveal a willful and somewhat
rebellious little boy.
Churchill graduated from Sandhurst. He travelled to the United
States and Cuba, saw action on the north west frontier of India in
1897, and the following year joined Kitchener's expeditionary
force to the Sudan and participated in the cavalry charge against
the Dervishes at the battle of Omdurman.
adventures continued in 1899 when he sailed to South Africa as a
correspondent of the Morning Post to cover the Boer War. He was
captured and spent his twenty-fifth birthday as a prisoner of war,
before escaping and making his way across the enemy lines to
Steps in Politics
was first elected to parliament in 1900, shortly before the death
of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as a
Conservative member for Oldham. After four years he crossed the
floor and joined the Liberals, rising swiftly through their ranks.
As President of the Board of Trade he helped to lay the
foundations of the welfare state, while his brief tenure as Home
Secretary is still remembered for the Tonypandy Riot and the siege
of Sidney Street.
Churchill married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of
Airlie. They had five children, four of whom survived into adulthood.
The marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were
quarrels. Their personal correspondence sheds much light on the
private people behind the public myth. From the first years of their
marriage Winston and Clementine routinely ended their letters with
drawings. He was her 'pug' or 'pig'. She was his 'cat'.
World War Days
the time war broke out in 1914 Churchill was First Lord of the
Admiralty and already a major national figure. As the conflict in
Europe degenerated into a stalemate he became convinced that the
only way to end the war quickly was to mount a huge out-flanking
attack on Turkey through the Dardanelles. But his
attempts to force the straits using only ships foundered, leading
to the disastrous Gallipolli landings and costing Churchill his
than remain idle, Churchill sought active service on the Western
Front. In January 1916 he was appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel
commanding the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.
successfully contested Dundee for the first time in May 1908. His
ministerial responsibilities kept him away from his constituency.
There were also clear differences in lifestyle and background
between Churchill and most of his constituents. By the time of the
1922 election, support for the Labour party had grown and the
local newspapers were hostile to Churchill.
still, appendicitis kept him from active campaigning. Clementine
spoke in her husband's place, but was spat upon for wearing
pearls. When the result was declared, Churchill was left, as he
wryly observed, without a seat, without a party and without an
and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal party and rejoined the
Conservatives. Anyone could 'rat', he remarked, but it took a
certain ingenuity to 're-rat'. To his surprise he was appointed
Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's government - a
position he held until the Tory defeat in 1929.
1930s Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving
India greater self-government and became more and more isolated in
politics. His dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the
dangers of the appeasement policy initially fell on deaf ears.
came in 1939, Churchill was inevitably recalled, as first lord of
the admiralty. The signal went round the fleet, "Winston is
back," a quarter of a century after his first going to the
post. But the first wave of German military power overwhelmed
Poland in September, and in the spring of 1940 the tidal wave
overwhelmed northwestern Europe, followed shortly afterward by the
fall of France.
On May 10,
1940, in the midst of this cataract of disasters, Churchill was
called to supreme power and responsibility by a spontaneous revolt
of the best elements in all parties. He, almost alone of the
nation's political leaders, had had no part in the disaster of the
1930's, and he really was chosen by the will of the nation. For
the next five years, perhaps the most heroic period in Britain's
history, he held supreme command, as prime minister and minister
of defense, in the nation's war effort. At this point his life and
career became one with Britain's story and its survival.
contribution was to instill in the British people his own fiery
resolve and will to resist. Throughout the tense summer of 1940,
when Britain stood alone, his speeches proved an inspiration.
Churchill did more than just talk. He toured the country
inspecting the bomb-damaged towns and cities. He also worked
tirelessly on diplomatic and military initiatives to regain the
offensive. It was from Scapa Flow that he sailed in August 1941
for a crucial secret meeting with President Roosevelt.
As the threat
of German invasion receded, the tide of war began to turn.
Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union brought Churchill an
unlikely ally in the person of Joseph Stalin. The Japanese bombing
of Pearl Harbour transformed the war into a truly global conflict.
It also precipitated the United States into the war, and with the
Americans came the promise of an ultimate Allied victory. By
October 1942 Churchill clearly felt confident enough to accept the
Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.
worked tirelessly to keep the Grand Alliance alive, shuttling
between capital cities and conferences. It is often forgotten that
he celebrated his 70th birthday during the war. While he tried
hard to project a fit and active public image, the strain
inevitably took a toll on his health.
did not allow his shock defeat in the 1945 General Election to
silence him for very long. He remained a hugely important
international figure, and used his status to speak out about the
new threats posed by the Cold War and the need for reconciliation
in Western Europe. In October 1951 the Conservative Party achieved
a narrow victory at the polls and Churchill became Prime Minister
once again. Failing health forced him to resign the premiership in
April 1955, but he remained an MP until 1964.
passed away on 24 January 1965. He received the first state
funeral given to a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington.
I am ready to
meet my Maker, whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of
meeting me is another matter... Churchill