Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Churchill Series – Sept. 11, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Sept. 12, 2008 is the 100th Anniversary of the wedding of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier. It was an extraordinary and loving marriage that lasted 56 years until Winston’s death in January 1965.

Churchill historian Paul Addison tells us a good deal about their marriage in his gracefully written, extremely interesting review of Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by the Churchill’s daughter Mary Soames, herself a graceful, informative writer.

Addison begins - - -

In the fifty-six years of their married life Winston and Clementine Churchill were often apart. Winston was never content for long unless he was off in search of action and adventure, but Clementine too was affected by wanderlust. Sometimes it was she who set off for distant parts, leaving Winston at home.

In 1935 she sailed away for a three-month cruise to the Far East aboard Rosaura, a yacht belonging to Lord Moyne. VE-Day found her in Moscow at the end of a tour of the Soviet Union.

Whenever they were separated, Winston and Clemmie exchanged long letters, supplemented by occasional notes and telegrams. Hence this remarkable edition of 800 exchanges out of some 2000 written between them, which opens with a letter from Mr. Winston Churchill to Miss Clementine Hozier on 16 April 1908, and closes with a note from Clemmie to Winston on 18 April 1964. . . .

It was, of course, a marriage of its time. In the wedding ceremony Clemmie promised to love, honour and obey. A capable and intelligent woman and a strong supporter of female suffrage, she sacrificed much of her own potential for a husband who never sought to disguise his egotism or his absorption in the masculine world of politics. For him, marriage and family life were one facet of a crowded existence; for her they were a vocation.

Yet the marriage worked for a simple reason, tenderly and movingly expressed in the letters of both partners. Winston and Clemmie married for love and the passing of time served only to strengthen the bonds between them. . . .

Addison’s entire review, hosted by the Churchill Centre, is here.

I hope you all give it a read.