We know him as a great statesman, the man who led the fight against Nazi Germany, the one who provided the lion of Great Britain its roar (as he once put it). He gave voice to the grit and determination of the British Empire when it went through its darkest hour.
But Winston Churchill, being all these things and more, was a writer.
That’s how he made his living, even during those days of the 1930s when, virtually alone, he proclaimed the evils of the Nazis and inevitability of war. He wrote newspaper and magazine articles while working on sweeping volumes of history.
And Churchill loved being a writer.
“Writing a long and substantial book is like having a friend and companion at your side, to whom you can always turn for comfort and amusement,” he said, “and whose society become more attractive as a new and widening field of interest is lighted in your mind.”
Much of what Churchill wrote at that time, he dictated to secretaries. They typed up his prose and sent it to typesetters, who returned it in galley proofs. Churchill often edited those proofs vigorously, and occasionally demanded a second or third set of proofs. He also had a team of loyal but underpaid scholars, historians, and fact-checkers who worked to make sure that he stayed within the lines of accuracy.
Churchill’s writing style is uniquely his own. If you read his histories, you can almost hear the words coming from his lips.
Note: I’ll have more on Churchill’s writing in a subsequent post.
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