Friday, January 23, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 23, 2009

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

I’m an admirer of William Manchester’s two volume Churchill biography:
The Last Lion and Alone. I regret a stroke prevented Manchester from completing his planned third and final volume of the biography.

But there are some things Manchester says about Churchill that just aren’t true. Here's one example from
Alone in which Manchester asserts:

As a man who reached his majority in 1895, when Victorian gentlemen never use the words “breast” or “leg” if ladies were present, he assumes that they are innocents who must be shielded from the brutal facts of life and that feminine beauty is unaccompanied by carnal desire.” (p. 17)
Churchill understood from youth the Victorian convention of avoiding references to sex in front of women was just that: a social convention.

And he also knew that many women enjoyed sex. One of them was his mother; another was his wife.

When Churchill was away Clementine would often end her letters to him reminding him to come home at the first opportunity because “your ‘Cat’ needs stroking” and “I so want to purr with you.”

If you haven't yet made its acquaintance, I urge you to read Speaking for Themselves: The Personnel Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by their daughter, Lady Mary Soames. (Black Swan, 1999)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.