Winston Churchill I Oxford Open Learning

    Winston Churchill

    Winston Churchill

    Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, on the 30th November 1874.

    To mark his birthday, we present a few interesting but perhaps little-known facts about one of the most famous British Prime Ministers in history.

    Despite being born into an aristocratic family and enjoying great financial privilege, Churchill was a low achiever at school.

    This, together with an interest in the military, led his father to push him towards a career in the army, though it took him several attempts to pass the entrance exam for Sandhurst Military College.

    Before World War One, Churchill worked as a war correspondent for a newspaper and was captured and imprisoned in 1899 during the Second Boer War.

    The manager of a mine helped him to escape, and he later joined the British Army.

    Throughout most of his life, Churchill suffered from severe bouts of depression, which he called “the black dog”.

    This worsened towards the end of his life and some physicians even diagnosed him as having bipolar disorder. His mental health problems were perhaps exacerbated by the suicide of one of his daughters, and the alcoholism of another.

    Churchill loved to paint and though he never claimed to be a great artist, he painted over 500 works of art in his lifetime.

    Under various pseudonyms, a number of these were bought by a gallery in Paris and two were submitted and accepted by the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1947.

    Churchill was also an avid writer, with writing providing his main source of income for much of his life.

    In 1953 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his mastery of historical and biographical description [in the non-fiction work The Second World War] as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”

    Despite being known as a great orator, Churchill had a rather severe speech impediment.

    Later in life he would use special dentures to help manage his lisp.

    Churchill began his political career as a Conservative but, in the 1923 general election, he actually stood for the Liberals with hopes of winning the seat of Leicester.

    He lost, and a year later returned to the Conservative party, winning the seat of Epping. He was then offered the position of Chancellor, a post previously held by his own father.

    Churchill is somewhat responsible for the invention of the jumpsuit or onesie.

    He had commissioned English shirtmakers Turnbull & Asser to create an all-in-one suit that could be quickly pulled on during an air raid. And thus, the “siren suit” was born. Churchill liked the item of clothing so much that he wore it to an engagement at the White House in 1941.

    For more information about Winston Churchill, visit History of Sir Winston Churchill at the government’s official website, GOV.UK.

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