(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill. )
Yesterday’s post included the recollections of one of Churchill’s WW II Private Secretaries, Sir John Peck, who described how Churchill went about preparing a major speech.
Since Churchill often worked late into the night, he would estimate how long he was likely to work after dinner and then alert his staff “that I shall need one (or sometimes two or three) woman tonight,” who would then work in shifts with one starting off taking dictation, then going off to type what she’d recorded while the next secretary began taking dictation. And so it would go until he’d finished, often in the early morning hours of the next day.
Churchill had been using this “system” since well before the war. He used it in the 30s when he worked on his biography of Marlborough and his History of the English Speaking Peoples.
It was often a source of fun for him as follows: If Clementine were away and he was entertaining guests for dinner, he would say to the butler as dinner was ending something like:
We shall have coffee and brandies in the library. Then after our guests depart I shall want two women. No, I’m a bit tired. One will do for tonight.The butler would play it straight and after a few minutes Churchill would let his surprised guests in on the joke.