1953 : Winston Churchill
“for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”
November 30, 1874
Place of birth
Blenheim, Oxfordshire England
January 24, 1965
Place of death
Hyde Park, London, England
Nobel Prize in Literature 1953
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) (Blenheim Palace, November 30, 1874 – London, Jan. 24, 1965) was a statesman, historian, writer and speaker of Britain. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. He was awarded for his historical works, their newspaper articles and his brilliant speeches, which stand as one of the main speakers of the twentieth century. Descendant of the Duke of Marlborough and son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a prominent conservative politician, after studying at Harrow, he enlisted in the British army. Fought in India, Sudan and South Africa. He took his successive destinations to work as a correspondent, which allowed him to finance his travels. The popularity reached that allowed him to devote himself to politics. In 1911 he was appointed first lord of the Admiralty. During the First World War was considered one of those responsible for the disaster of the landing of Gallipoli. Marched to the front where he commanded a combat unit in the front line. After being absolved of his guilt by the parliament, became minister of munitions. Towards the end of the conflict would be minister and minister of the air war. During the interwar period was appointed finance minister by Stanley Baldwin. However, in the thirties fall into disgrace because of his opposition to the policy of appeasement pursued by the Conservative and Labor governments. The advent of Hitler to power only served to increase their warnings. At the beginning of World War II returned to the government. He was named the new first lord of the Admiralty and, in May 1940, was elected prime minister, replacing Neville Chamberlain, who resigned after the disaster in Norway. The example of Churchill and his magnificent speech allowed him to maintain the spiritual cohesion of the British people in the hours of trial meant that the systematic bombing of Germany on London and other cities in the United Kingdom. Finally, although the Allies won the war, Churchill lost the elections of 1945 before the Labor Atlee. In 1951, Churchill became Prime Minister, while increasingly delegated tasks in their ministers. In January 1955 he resigned for health reasons. He was succeeded in office Anthony Eden. On the death in 1965, the British people he paid a great tribute. Held a state funeral, which honor during the twentieth century alone, and he received Lord Roberts.
The early years:
Churchill was the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, and the American Jennie Jerome, daughter of a millionaire American, Leonard Jerome. Winston Churchill descendant of John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough and was a first cousin of the eighth duke. Childhood spent Churchill mainly in boarding schools, including the Headmaster of the school’s House of Harrow. An interesting anecdote is that in his examination for admission to the field of Latin, wrote the title of the subject, your name and the number 1 followed by a period and just as she had no idea what to write. It was accepted despite this slip, although he was assigned in the division behind the school where he was taught mainly English, always matters in which he said. Harrow currently exists in the prize given to Churchill essays in English. At the time of his stay in Harrow, was rarely visited by his mother, which he loved and who frequently wrote letters asking him to visit him or allow him to travel to visit her. Followed the career of his father, but there was little connection between them. On one occasion in 1886, Churchill exclaimed, “My father is the chancellor of the Exchequer and one day that’s what I’m going to be me.” The experience of his lonely and desolate brought by the children throughout their lives. Churchill has not progressed much in Harrow, regularly being punished for their poor work and lack of dedication. He had an independent and rebellious and failed to reach many merits at the academic level, suspending various subjects, except mathematics and history, which was often placed among the best students. But his refusal to study the classics prevented any improvement in Harrow. The fact of their failure in school is something the same Chruchill spread like an act of rebellion against his father. Despite all this, managed to be the champion of fencing of the school.
Churchill graduated from the Royal Academy of Sandhurst. He joined the army when he was 21 years as a junior in the regiment of Husares IV. This regiment was stationed in Bangalore, India. When he came to India suffered an accident that he disloco shoulder, which caused him pain and discomfort for the rest of his life. In India the main occupation of the regiment Churchill was playing polo. The team had plenty of hits, becoming the first regiment of South India to win the Cup Inter-Regiments. Churchill also devoted considerable time to cultivate, reading lot of books. During the period in which they stayed in India, Churchill looked for ways to take part in major conflicts from the colonial British Empire. In 1895 he traveled to Cuba, where he observed the fighting between Spanish troops and rebels. The newspaper Dayly Graphic financed his trip in exchange for writing articles about what they were seeing. He had his first experience in a war to be exposed to the crossfire from both sides on the day that it met 21 years. He took this trip to visit the United States, to be presented to the society of New York by one of the lovers of his mother, Bourke Cockran. In 1897, Churchill tried to go to the Balkans when the war broke out between Turkey and Greece, but it ended before he could reach. Continued path to England to leave, but while returning Pathan began the rebellion in the northwest frontier of India, so immediately returned to India to participate in this campaign. The commander of the expedition, Sir Bindon Blood, he promised that Churchill could join his army. The campaign against the Pathans lasted only six weeks. On the other hand, he continued writing articles for newspapers like The Pioneer and The Daily Telgraph. In October 1897, Churchill returned to England and published his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, which recounts his experiences during the campaign. While stationed in India, Churchill he managed to get several permits. When Lord Kitchener organized the campaign to reconquer the Sudan, Churchill attempted to join his army, but Kitchener was opposed. Churchill began to move all your contacts, including the then prime minister, Lord Salisbury. Churchill finally achieved his goal and joined the 21st regiment of lances (that decision was the responsibility of the ministry of war, not from Kitchener). Simultaneously working as a correspondent for the Morning Post. In Sudan, participated in the Battle of Omdurman, which was the last cavalry charge of the British in this war. In October 1898 he returned to England and began to write The River War, the work of two volumes published in 1899. That same year, Churchill left the army and began his political career. Presented himself as a conservative candidate in the constituency of Oldham, but failed to be elected. It won third place in a district to which he fell only two representatives in Parliament. On October 12, 1899 Churchill was sent as a correspondent for the newspaper The Morning Post to cover the Second Anglo-Boer War. Already in South Africa, Churchill was traveling in a train of the British Army under the command of Aylmer Haldane. The train was derailed by the Boers. Churchill, although that was not a fighter, took command of the operation. He managed to repair the track and the locomotive, as well as half of the wagon, which transported the injured to a safe area. Churchill was not so lucky and was taken prisoner by the Boers and sent to prison camp that had become the Model Schools in the State of Pretoria, along with several officers and British soldiers. Churchill escaped from the field. However, it created great controversy, since he was accused of having abandoned Haldane. Later it was found that he did not dare to skip the gates of the compound. Once free, Churchill traveled 480 km to reach the Bay of Dalgagoa in Lourenco Marques, a Portuguese colony. With the help of an English mine manager, who provided him shelter in one, and then hid him in a train that was leaving the territory controlled by the Boers. This adventure to Churchill gave some notoriety for some time, but instead of returning to his country went to Durban and joined the army of General Redvers Buller in its march to liberate the towns of Ladysmith and Pretoria. This time, though still a war correspondent, Churchill won a commission in the light cavalry of South Africa. He fought in the Battle of Spion Kop and was among the first to enter Ladysmith and Pretoria. Churchill and his cousin, the Duke of Marlborough, managed to be the first to go in Pretoria, obtaining the surrender of the Boers guards guarding the British prison camp in the town. The two books written by Churchill about the war of the Boers, Ladysmith via London to Pretoria and Ian Hamilton’s March were published in May and October 1900 respectively.
On his return from South Africa, Churchill again as a candidate for Oldham in the elections of 1900. He was elected, but rather than attend the opening of Parliament, went on tour through the United Kingdom and the United States making speeches and raising ? 10,000. It should be borne in mind that members of Parliament did not receive any fee, and Churchill was not a wealthy man, although it belonged to an influential family. In the United States, Mark Twain was introduced as a speaker on one of his speeches. Dined with Theodore Roosevelt, then vice president of the United States. In February 1901 Churchill returned to England and once installed in Parliament was associated with a group of dissidents of the Conservative Party led by Lord Hugh Cecil, which were referred to as the Hughligan or “Hooligans.” During the first session of Parliament, Churchill was opposed, contrary to the majority view within his party, the budget proposed by the government for the army, which considered extravagant. In 1903, his views began to diverge from those of Lord Hugh. He also opposed the Conservative party leader, Joseph Chamberlain, who proposed tariff reforms quite extensive, trying to protect these fares through the pre-eminence of Britain in the world economy. This led to a deep animosity towards him by members of his party. On one occasion, while making use of the word, conservative MPs withdrew from the Chamber. The electoral district of Oldham withdrew its support, although it remained until the general election of 1906. In 1904, Churchill’s dissatisfaction with the Conservatives and their attraction to the Liberal Party was such that, after a recess of Parliament, crossed the room and sat on the bench for the Liberals. As a liberal continued to campaign for eliminating tariffs and routing to the Western countries toward a free market policy. He changed his constituency and was introduced by the North West of Manchester, getting the victory in the general election in 1906. Between 1903 and 1905 Churchill wrote the book Lord Randolph Churchill’s biography of her father. Was published in 1906 and hailed as a masterpiece, although some of the less attractive features of her father were smoothed.
In December 1905, the Liberals replaced the Conservatives in government, being named Henry Campbell-Bannerman prime minister. Churchill became the vice minister for the colonies, serving Victor Bruce, the 9th Earl of Elgin, who was his superior. The first mission of Churchill was involved in drawing up a constitution for the territories of Transvaal and the Orange River Colony in South Africa, after the defeat of the Boers. He also was charged with the problem of slavery in Chinese mines in South Africa. Churchill soon became one of the most prominent members of the cabinet, and when Campbell-Bannerman was replaced by Henry Herbert ASQUITH in 1908, Churchill was appointed chairman of the direction of trade. At that time, a new minister had to seek re-election in his constituency. Churchill lost the elections in Manchester, but soon managed to be elected in the district of Dundee. In 1910 Churchill was promoted to minister of internal affairs. His performances produced great controversy. In a photograph that became famous at that time, it appears Churchill taking over in January 1911 called the siege of Sydney Street, watching from a corner that the battle was taking place among a group of anarchists who had assaulted a building and Scots Guards. A fire broke out in the building and Churchill refused to call the fire brigade, forcing the anarchists to choose between surrender or death. In 1911 Churchill was appointed first lord of the Admiralty, a post he would occupy during the start of the First World War. As such, he spearheaded major military reforms, including development of naval aviation, tanks and fuel-switching from coal to oil. It also carried out massive engineering works, ensuring the rights over the oil fields of Mesopotamia in 1907, using the British secret services through the Royal Burmah Oil Company. In 1915, Churchill, as first lord of the Admiralty, had connection with the case of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. There are documents whose details have indicated, according to some historians, the First Lord of the Admiralty might have been negligent to leave the ship without an escort, which would have enabled the sinking of this ship, in order to come to the U.S.. UU. in the war. However, most historians wary of that theory, since a premature entry of EE. UU. would have deprived the British convoy of Americans. These would be suspended for some time, because the Americans had not developed enough as the war industry to cope simultaneously with the needs British and theirs in the year 1915. The development of a tank battle was financed with funds originally targeted at the naval research and while a decade later, the development of the tank was considered a brilliant work, at that time was seen as an illegal diversion of funds. The tank was used in 1915 but not in an efficient manner, nor as he had thought Churchill, a fleet of tanks to take the Germans by surprise, opening up long sections of trenches crushing defenses of barbed wire. On the other hand, was also one of the leaders who planned the disastrous landing of Gallipoli on the Dardanelles during the First World War, which earned him the nickname the “Butcher of Gallipoli.” When Prime Minister ASQUITH wanted to form a coalition government between all parties, the Conservatives demanded their degradation in the cabinet. In this way is that Churchill was a ministry without portfolio as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, surrendered to the government later. Rejoined the army, although still a member of Parliament and served several months in the western front. At that time, his second in command was Archibald Sinclair, who later became the leader of the Liberal Party.
Return to Government:
In December 1916, ASQUITH resigned and was replaced by Lloyd George. However, it still was not considered prudent to bring the government back to Churchill. In July 1917, Churchill was appointed minister of munitions. At the end of World War I, Churchill had the dual position of minister and minister of the air war (1919-1921). During this period attempted to reduce the military budget. However, their main concern was the intervention of the allies in the Russian Civil War. Churchill was strongly in favor of this, stating that the cause of the Bolsheviks had to be strangled in its crib. It was said the increase and extension of the British involvement in this conflict, even if there were serious differences within the cabinet and an opposition majority in Parliament and the people. In 1920 when the British forces withdrew, Churchill he managed to send arms to the Poles when they invaded Ukraine. In 1921 he was appointed minister for the colonies. He was one of the signatories of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force : An Episode of Frontier War – Longmans, Green, 1898
The River War : An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan – 2 vol. – Longmans, Green, 1899
Savrola : a Tale of the Revolution in Laurania – Longmans, Green, 1900
Lord Randolph Churchill. – 2 vol. – Macmillan, 1906
My African Journey – Hodder & Stoughton, 1908
Liberalism and the Social Problem – Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
The People’s Rights – Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
The World Crisis – 6 vol. – Butterworth, 1923–1931
My Early Life : a Roving Commission – Butterworth, 1930
India : Speeches and an Introduction – Butterworth, 1931
Thoughts and Adventures – Butterworth, 1932
Marlborough : His Life and Times – 4 vol. – Harrap, 1933–1938
Great Contemporaries – Butterworth, 1937
Step by Step : 1936–1939 – Butterworth, 1939
War Speeches : 1940–1945 – Cassell, 1946
The Second World War – 6 vol. – Houghton Mifflin, 1948–1955
Painting as a Pastime – Odham Press, 1948
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples – 4 vol. – Cassell, 1956–1958
Young Winston’s Wars : The Original Despatches of Winston S. Churchill, War Correspondent, 1897–1900 / edited by Frederick Woods – Cooper, 1972
Collected Works of Sir Winston Churchill – Centenary Limited Edition – 34 vol. – Library of Imperial History, 1973–1976
Winston S. Churchill : His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 / edited by Robert Rhodes James – 8 vol. – Chelsea House, 1974
The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill / edited by Michael Wolff – 4 vol. – Library of Imperial History, 1976
The Churchill War Papers / edited by Martin Gilbert – 2 vol. – Norton, 1993–1995
Literature (a selection):
Charmley, John, Churchill : the End of Glory : a Political Biography – Hodder & Stoughton, 1993
Churchill as Peacemaker / edited by James W. Muller – University Press, 1997
Sandys, Celia, Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive – HarperCollins, 1999
Jenkins, Roy, Churchill. – Macmillan, 2001
Lukacs, John, Churchill : Visionary, Statesman, Historian – Yale University Press, 2002
Keegan, John, Churchill – Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003
Reynolds, David, In Command of History : Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War – Allen Lane, 2004
1953: Nobel Prize in Literature.
Presentation Speech by S. Siwertz, Member of the Swedish Academy.
Very seldom have great statesmen and warriors also been great writers. One thinks of Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, and even Napoleon, whose letters to Josephine during the first Italian campaign certainly have passion and splendour. But the man who can most readily be compared with Sir Winston Churchill is Disraeli, who also was a versatile author. It can be said of Disraeli as Churchill says of Rosebery, that he flourished in an age of great men and small events. He was never subjected to any really dreadful ordeals. His writing was partly a political springboard, partly an emotional safety valve. Through a series of romantic and self-revealing novels, at times rather difficult to read, he avenged himself for the humiliation and setbacks that he, the Jewish stranger in an England ruled by aristocrats, suffered despite his fantastic career. He was not a great writer but a great actor, who played his leading part dazzlingly. He could very well repeat Augustus’ words of farewell: Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over!
Churchill’s John Bull profile stands out effectively against the elder statesman’s chalk-white, exotic mask with the black lock of hair on the forehead. The conservative Disraeli revered the English way of life and tradition which Churchill, radical in many respects, has in his blood, including steadfastness in the midst of the storm and the resolute impetus which marks both word and deed. He wears no mask, shows no sign of cleavage, has no complex, enigmatic nature. The analytical morbidezza, without which the modern generation finds it hard to imagine an author, is foreign to him. He is a man for whom reality’s block has not fallen apart. There, simply, lies the world with its roads and goals under the sun, the stars, and the banners. His prose is just as conscious of the goal and the glory as a runner in the stadium. His every word is half a deed. He is heart and soul a late Victorian who has been buffeted by the gale, or rather one who chose of his own accord to breast the storm.
Churchill’s political and literary achievements are of such magnitude that one is tempted to resort to portray him as a Caesar who also has the gift of Cicero’s pen. Never before has one of history’s leading figures been so close to us by virtue of such an outstanding combination. In his great work about his ancestor, Marlborough, Churchill writes, Words are easy and many, while great deeds are difficult and rare. Yes, but great, living, and persuasive words are also difficult and rare. And Churchill has shown that they too can take on the character of great deeds.
It is the exciting and colourful side of Churchill’s writing which perhaps first strikes the reader. Besides much else, My Early Life (1930) is also one of the world’s most entertaining adventure stories. Even a very youthful mind can follow with the keenest pleasure the hero’s spirited start in life as a problem child in school, as a polo-playing lieutenant in the cavalry (he was considered too dense for the infantry), and as a war correspondent in Cuba, in the Indian border districts, in the Sudan, and in South Africa during the Boer War. Rapid movement, undaunted judgments, and a lively perception distinguish him even here. As a word-painter the young Churchill has not only verve but visual acuteness. Later he took up painting as a hobby, and in Thoughts and Adventures (1932) discourses charmingly on the joy it has given him. He loves brilliant colours and feels sorry for the poor brown ones. Nevertheless, Churchill paints better with words. His battle scenes have a matchless colouring. Danger is man’s oldest mistress and in the heat of action the young officer was fired to an almost visionary clear-sightedness. On a visit to Omdurman many years ago I discovered how the final struggle in the crushing of the Mahdi’s rebellion, as it is depicted in The River War (1899), was branded on my memory. I could see in front of me the dervish hordes brandishing their spears and guns, the ochre-yellow sand ramparts shot to pieces, the Anglo-Egyptian troops’ methodical advance, and the cavalry charge which nearly cost Churchill his life.
Even old battles which must be dug out of dusty archives are described by Churchill with awesome clarity. Trevelyan masterfully depicts Marlborough’s campaigns, but in illusory power it is doubtful that Churchill’s historic battle scenes can be surpassed. Take, for instance, the Battle of Blenheim. One follows in fascination the moves of the bloody chess game, one sees the cannon balls plough their furrows through the compact squares, one is carried away by the thundering charge and fierce hand-to-hand fighting of the cavalry; and after putting the book down one can waken in the night in a cold sweat, imagining he is right in the front rank of English redcoats who, without wavering, stand among the piles of dead and wounded loading their rifles and firing their flashing salvoes.
But Churchill became far more than a soldier and a delineator of war. Even in the strict but brilliant school of the parliamentary gamble for power he was, perhaps from the outset, something of a problem child. The young Hotspur learned, however, to bridle his impetuosity, and he quickly developed into an eminent political orator with the same gift of repartee as Lloyd George. His sallies, often severe, excluded neither warmth nor chivalry. In his alternation between Toryism and radicalism, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. He has also portrayed the latter’s short, uneasy, tragically interrupted political and personal life in a work which has an undisputed place of honour in England’s profuse biographical literature.
Even the First World War, despite all setbacks, meant a vast expansion for Churchill as both politician and writer. In his historical works the personal and the factual elements have been intimately blended. He knows what he is talking about. In gauging the dynamics of events, his profound experience is unmistakable. He is the man who has himself been through the fire, taken risks, and withstood extreme pressure. This gives his words a vibrating power. Occasionally, perhaps, the personal side gets the upper hand. Balfour called The World Crisis (1923-29) Winston’s brilliant autobiography, disguised as world history. With all due respect to archives and documents, there is something special about history written by a man who has himself helped to make it.
In his great book on the Duke of Marlborough (1933-38), whose life’s work is so similar to Churchill’s own, he makes an intrepid attack on his ancestor’s detractors. I do not know what professional historians say of his polemic against Macaulay, but these diatribes against the great general’s persistent haters and revilers are certainly diverting and temperamental.
The Marlborough book is not only a series of vivid battle scenes and a skillful defence of the statesman and warrior. It is also a penetrating study of an enigmatic and unique personality; it shows that Churchill, in addition to all else, is capable of real character-drawing. He returns again and again to the confusing mixture in Marlborough of methodical niggardliness and dazzling virtuosity: His private fortune was amassed, he says, upon the same principles as marked the staff-work of his campaigns, and was a part of the same design. It was only in love or on the battlefield that he took all risks. In these supreme exaltations he was swept from his system and rule of living, and blazed resplendent with the heroic virtues. In his marriage and in his victories the worldly prudence, the calculation, the reinsurance, which regulated his ordinary life and sustained his strategy, fell from him like a too heavily embroidered cloak, and the genius within sprang forth in sure and triumphant command. In his military enthusiasm Churchill forgets for a moment that Marlborough’s famous and dearly loved Sarah was by no means one to let herself be ordered about. But it is a wonderful passage.
Churchill regretted that he had never been able to study at Oxford. He had to devote his leisure hours to educating himself. But there are certainly no educational gaps noticeable in his mature prose. Take, for example, Great Contemporaries (1937), one of his most charming books. He is said to have moulded his style on Gibbon, Burke, and Macaulay, but here he is supremely himself What a deft touch and at the same time what a fund of human knowledge, generosity, and gay malice are in this portrait gallery!
Churchill’s reaction to Bernard Shaw is very amusing, a piquant meeting between two of England’s greatest literary personalities. Churchill cannot resist poking fun at Shaw’s blithely irresponsible talk and flippancy, which contrasted with the latter’s fundamental gravity. Half amused, half appalled, he winces at the way in which the incorrigibly clowning genius was forever tripping himself up and turning somersaults between the most extreme antitheses. It is the contrast between the writer, who must at all costs create surprises, and the statesman, whose task it is to meet and master them.
It is not easy to sum up briefly the greatness of Churchill’s style. He says of his old friend, the Liberal statesman, John Morley, Though in conversation he paraded and man?uvred nimbly and elegantly around his own convictions, offering his salutations and the gay compliments of old-time war to the other side, [he] always returned to his fortified camp to sleep. As a stylist Churchill himself, despite his mettlesome chivalry, is not prone to such amiable arabesques. He does not beat about the bush, but is a man of plain speaking. His fervour is realistic, his striking – power is tempered only by broad-mindedness and humour. He knows that a good story tells itself. He scorns unnecessary frills and his metaphors are rare but expressive.
Behind Churchill the writer is Churchill the orator – hence the resilience and pungency of his phrases. We often characterize ourselves unconsciously through the praise we give others. Churchill, for instance, says of another of his friends, Lord Birkenhead, As he warmed to his subject, there grew that glow of conviction and appeal, instinctive and priceless, which constitutes true eloquence. The words might with greater justification have been said of Churchill himself.
The famous desert warrior, Lawrence of Arabia, the author of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is another who has both made and written history. Of him Churchill says, Just as an aeroplane only flies by its speed and pressure against the air, so he flew best and easiest in the hurricane. It is again striking how Churchill here too speaks of the same genius that carried his own words through the storm of events.
Churchill’s mature oratory is swift, unerring in its aim, and moving in its grandeur. There is the power which forges the links of history. Napoleon’s proclamations were often effective in their lapidary style. But Churchill’s eloquence in the fateful hours of freedom and human dignity was heart-stirring in quite another way. With his great speeches he has, perhaps, himself erected his most enduring monument.
Lady Churchill – The Swedish Academy expresses its joy at your presence and asks you to convey to Sir Winston a greeting of deep respect. A literary prize is intended to cast lustre over the author, but here it is the author who gives lustre to the prize. I ask you now to accept, on behalf of your husband, the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature from the hands of His Majesty the King.