Winston Churchill Biography

(Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1940 - 1945, 1951 - 1955))

Birthday: November 30, 1874 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Blenheim Palace, England, United Kingdom

Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. A multi-faceted man, he was also an officer in the British Army, a writer, and a historian. As a young army man, he witnessed action in the Anglo-Sudan War and the Second Boer War and received much praise for his work as a war correspondent. Born as the son of a prominent politician hailing from an aristocratic family, he grew up to be a rebellious boy who hated formal education and did poorly in school. As a young man, he embarked on a military career and visited several countries including India, Cuba, and Egypt where he witnessed bloody battles and was even imprisoned. He served as both a soldier and journalist and was greatly appreciated for his work as a war correspondent. Eventually, he left the army and ventured into politics where he enjoyed even greater success. Intelligent and charismatic, he proved to be a popular politician and held many political and cabinet positions. He became the Prime Minister during a highly tumultuous period in history when World War II was in full swing. He managed the political affairs with great tact and successfully led Britain as Prime Minister until victory over Nazi Germany had been secured. In recognition of all that he had done for the nation, he is widely counted amongst the most influential people in British history.

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Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In November

Also Known As: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

Died At Age: 90

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Clementine Churchill (m. 1908–1965)

father: Lord Randolph Churchill

mother: Lady Randolph Churchill

siblings: John Strange Spencer-Churchill

children: Diana Churchill, Marigold Churchill, Mary Soames, Randolph Churchill, Sarah Churchill

Born Country: England

Quotes By Winston Churchill Writers

political ideology: Conservative (1900–04, 1924–64), Liberal (1904–24)

Died on: January 24, 1965

place of death: London, England, United Kingdom

Notable Alumni: RMC Sandhurst, Harrow School

Cause of Death: Stroke

epitaphs: I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

More Facts

education: Harrow School, RMC Sandhurst

awards: 1953 - Nobel Prize in Literature

Childhood & Early Life

Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, into an aristocratic family. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a prominent politician while his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (née Jennie Jerome), was the daughter of an American millionaire.

Growing up, he did not have a close relationship with either of his parents and was primarily raised by nannies. He was especially close to his nanny, Elizabeth Ann Everest, whom he considered his friend and confidante.

He was a rebellious young boy who detested formal education. In April 1888, he was sent to Harrow School, a boarding school near London. He did poorly there though he developed a love for the English language.

After leaving Harrow in 1893, he applied to attend the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He failed in his initial attempts to pass the test but eventually got selected. He graduated in December 1894 and was commissioned as a cornet (second lieutenant) in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars.

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Military Career

During the Cuban War of Independence, he traveled to Cuba; he obtained a commission to write about the conflict from the ‘Daily Graphic’ as a wartime correspondent. He returned to England when he learned that his nanny Elizabeth Ann Everest was dying.

In 1896, he was transferred to British India where he worked as both soldier and journalist on the North-West Frontier in 1897. His journalistic works became very popular during this period and helped to establish him as a successful writer.

In 1897, Churchill fought against a Pashtun tribe in Malakand—now in Pakistan—under the leadership of General Jeffery. After the victory of the British Army, he wrote an account of the fight, which was published in 1900 as ‘The Story of the Malakand Field Force’ for which he received £600.

Transferred to Egypt in 1898, he served in Sudan under the command of General Herbert Kitchener. There he participated in the Battle of Omdurman before returning to Britain. Churchill resigned from the British Army in May 1899.

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Political Career

The Second Boer War between Britain and the Boer Republics broke out in 1899 and Churchill obtained a commission as war correspondent for ‘The Morning Post’. He went to South Africa for the assignment where he was captured and taken prisoner by the Boers. He made a dramatic escape and returned successfully to Britain. He wrote about his experiences in the book ‘London to Ladysmith’ (1900).

He then ventured into politics and became a Member of Parliament for Oldham in 1900. Initially a member of the Conservative Party, he moved to the Liberal Party in 1904. Eventually, he was appointed to the prime minister's cabinet as president of the Board of Trade.

He soon established himself as a successful politician and was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. In this position, he emphasized on modernization of the British Navy and set up the Royal Navy Air Service. He favored using airplanes in combat and even took flying lessons himself to understand their military potential.

World War I was going on during this time and in 1917 he was appointed minister of munitions for overseeing the production of tanks, airplanes, and munitions. After the war, he served as minister of war and air and colonial secretary from 1919 to 1922.

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He eventually rejoined the Conservative Party and was made the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In this position, he returned Britain to the Gold Standard. This decision proved to be disastrous and resulted in widespread unemployment that led to the General Strike of 1926. Later on, Churchill regarded this as a huge mistake.

In the 1929 general election, the conservative government was defeated and Churchill became estranged from the party’s leadership. He did not accomplish much in the political arena in the ensuing years and focused on his writings instead, becoming one of the best-paid writers of his time.

After remaining in isolation for a few years, he returned to prominence in 1939 when Britain declared war on Germany following the outbreak of World War II. He was once again made First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he had held years ago during World War I. Thus he became a member of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's small War Cabinet.

Before long he became the chairman of the Military Coordinating Committee. In April 1940, Germany invaded and occupied Norway, in the wake of which Chamberlain resigned. Winston Churchill, aged 65 at that time, succeeded Chamberlain as the prime minister under these highly trying circumstances.

As the prime minister he refused to sign a peace treaty with Nazi Germany and motivated the British Empire through his powerful speeches to keep resistance alive. A highly skilled orator, he made one of his iconic speeches in June 1940, warning that "the Battle of Britain" was about to begin.

During the war, he created and took up the additional position of Minister of Defence, and put the industrialist and newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook, in charge of aircraft production. Due to this, Britain was able to quickly increase its aircraft production, strengthening its position in the war.

Churchill maintained good relations with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt thereby securing a regular supply of food, arms, and oil in Britain. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill fully supported the U.S. in its counterattack on Germany and Japan. When the U.S. entered the war in December 1941, Churchill became more confident of a victory for the Allied forces.

In the ensuing months, he collaborated closely with Roosevelt, and Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin to forge an Allied war strategy. The destructive World War II finally came to an end in 1945. Surprisingly though, Churchill was defeated in the general election in July 1945 despite all his wartime achievements.

Although shocked by his defeat, he accepted the role of leader of the parliamentary opposition and remained active in world politics. He held this position for six years and during his tenure he gave his Iron Curtain speech about the USSR and the creation of the Eastern Bloc in March 1946.

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Following the general election of October 1951, Winston Churchill became the prime minister once again. During this tenure, he also held the office of Minister of Defence from October 1951 to March 1952.

Even though he was in his seventies, he retained his passion for politics and introduced various reforms such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954 and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955. During this period tax allowances were raised and national assistance benefits were increased.

During the 1950s his health began to deteriorate and he found himself unable to perform his duties. Thus he reluctantly resigned as the prime minister in 1955.

Major Works

Winston Churchill first became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during a period of political chaos when World War II was going on. With his years of military and political experience, he helped inspire British resistance in the nation’s struggle and led active opposition against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. As the Prime Minister he is credited to have led Britain to victory over the seemingly undefeatable Nazi Germany.

A prominent writer, he wrote ‘The Second World War’, a history of the period from the end of World War I to July 1945. He worked with a team of assistants on this seminal work which played a major role in earning him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. The book was a major commercial success in both Britain and the U.S.

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Awards & Achievements

Winston Churchill was awarded 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.”

He was named the Greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 BBC poll based on approximately a million votes from BBC viewers.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Clementine Hozier in 1908. Their marriage was a happy one, marked by mutual love and respect. Five children were born to them, of which one died as a child.

Winston Churchill lived a long life. He suffered from ill health during his later years. He suffered his first major stroke in 1953, at the age of 78 which left him unable to speak and walk properly. He suffered another major stroke on 15 January 1965 and died nine days later on 24 January 1965.

His funeral was the largest state funeral in world history up to that time. Representatives from 112 nations attended the event and he was mourned by millions across the globe who watched the funeral on television.

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy proclaimed him an Honorary Citizen of the United States, making him the first person to be made so.

Recommended Lists:

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