The Churchill Biography

Sir Martin writes:

Upon Randolph Churchill’s death in 1968, Martin Gilbert was asked to continue writing the multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill, which entailed reading the fifteen tons of documents, page by page.  In his memoir of that time, In Search of Churchill, he writes of how he saw his task:

Sir Martin at his desk, under the watchful eye of Sir Jacob Epstein's maquette of Churchill. (26 March 1991, photo by Edward Hamilton West for the Guardian)
Sir Martin at his desk, under the watchful eye of his Oscar Nemon plaster of Churchill. (26 March 1991, photo by Edward Hamilton West for the Guardian)

What could be done for the Dardanelles campaign, and then for every subsequent controversy with which Churchill was involved (and there were far more than I had realized), was to explain exactly what he was trying to do, why he wanted to do it, how he set about it, and the way in which he confronted the various obstacles, whether of nature or of individuals, that were found along the way.  I wanted to be able to establish the chain of events and circumstances within which he worked.

In addition to what became six narrative volumes, I continued work on the sets of document volumes, known as companions, which Randolph had begun.  The aim was, and still is, to make available to students and scholars, and to the general reader who enjoys the raw material of history, a comprehensive selection of the letters, documents, and other contemporary materials covering all periods of Churchill’s life and career.

On this day: 10 May 1940

“On the evening of Friday, 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. The news was announced by his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, when he spoke on the wireless that night. It was overshadowed in most of the morning newspapers on Saturday, 11 May, by the news that German forces had invaded Belgium, Holland and France.”

The Churchill Documents, Volume 15, Never Surrender, May 1940-December 1940

Read more about Sir Martin’s inspiration and interest in Churchill, his blogs, films and book talks: Sir Martin & Churchill

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