Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 28, 2009

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

In historian John Keegan’s biography, Winston Churchill, Keegan quotes a passage from Churchill’s autobiography of his first 27 years, My Early Life.

Churchill tells us what happened when he got to the Latin portion of the Harrow entrance exam :

I wrote my name at the top of the page. I wrote down the number of the question, “1.” After much reflection I put a bracket around it, thus, “(1).”

But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true.

Incidentally there arrived from nowhere in particular a blot and several smudges. I gazed for two whole hours at this sad spectacle; and then merciful ushers collected up my piece of foolscap and carried it up to the Headmaster’s table. (pgs. 25-26 in Keegan)
Churchill never learned much Latin at Harrow, to which he was admitted most likely because he was Lord Randolph Churchill’s son.

But he said long afterwards that he did learn there the structure and uses of the English sentence “which is a good thing indeed.” And as later used by Churchill, it became a powerful weapon in the cause of freedom.


Anonymous said...


Your Churchill postings remind me of the year I spent reading his six volume history of WWII while living in Canada. A better grammar and history education could not have been achieved!

Anonymous said...

What one book about Churchill would you recommend? Something that, when I am finished, will make me want to read even more about him?