Churchill, Sir Winston
(Leonard Spencer)
1874 -- 1965

British statesman, prime minister (1940--5, 1951--5), and author, born in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, SC England, UK, the eldest son of Randolph Churchill. He trained at Sandhurst, and was gazetted to the 4th Hussars in 1895. His army career included fighting at Omdurman (1898) with the Nile Expeditionary Force. During the second Boer War he acted as a London newspaper correspondent. Initially a Conservative MP (1900), he joined the liberals in 1904, and was colonial under-secretary (1905), President of the Board of Trade (1908), home secretary (1910), and First Lord of the Admiralty (1911). In 1915 he was made the scapegoat for the Dardanelles disaster, but in 1917 became minister of munitions. After World War 1 he was secretary of state for war and air (1919--21), and - as a "Constitutionalist' supporter of the Conservatives - Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924--9). In 1929 he returned to the Conservative fold, but remained out of step with the leadership until World War 2, when he returned to the Admiralty; then, on Chamberlain's defeat (May 1940), he formed a coalition government, holding both the premiership and the defence portfolio, and leading Britain alone through the war against Germany and Italy with steely resolution. Defeated in the July 1945 election, he became a pugnacious Leader of the Opposition. In 1951 he was prime minister again, and after 1955 remained a venerated backbencher. In his last years, he was often described as "the greatest living Englishman'. He achieved a world reputation not only as a great strategist and inspiring war leader, but as the last of the classic orators with a supreme command of English; as a talented painter; and as a writer with an Augustan style, a great breadth of mind, and a profound sense of history. He was knighted in 1953, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the same year. He left a widow, Clementine Ogilvy Hozier (1885--1977), whom he had married in 1908, and who was made a life peer in 1965 for her charitable work (Baroness Spencer-Churchill of Chartwell).

Except where noted, data in the BIOGRAPHY® Online Database is from the AND Reference Database, which incorporates the Cambridge Encyclopedia Database. Copyright © 1997, AND Reference Data Ltd., Oxford, UK. and The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, edited by J S. Bowmen. Copyright © 1995 Cambridge University Press. Reproduced with permission.

 

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