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: 25 October 1936

(Sir Martin’s birthday), Maurice Hankey, Neville Chamberlain, and Desmond Morton each write to Churchill to thank him for sending them a copy of his third volume of Marlborough. Morton adds: “I look forward immensely to studying it and will let you know if I have anything worth considering to say after I have done so.”

The Churchill Documents, Volume 13, The Coming of War, 1936-1939

 

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

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