Churchill

Back Next

Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman and prime minister, was clearly among the great men of his age. He excelled not only as a politician but also as a practical leader and a respected author. As with all men, however, he was not without faults, some serious and others trivial yet sometimes inconvenient.

In this last category was his tendency to "overproduce" some of his writings and speeches. A friend, F.E. Smith complained during the 1920s:

"Winston has devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches."

Once, in 1938 Churchill published a collection of his speeches under the title, "Arms and the Covenant." An American edition was planned, however the publisher felt that the title would be meaningless to American readers, who held the League of Nations (the source of the title) in a measure of contempt. Churchill was asked to suggest an alternative.

After some consideration, he sent a cable suggesting,

"The Years of the Locust."

In those days all forms of distance communication were much more challenging than is true now and were frequently subject to garbling. Hence, the cable arrived in the publisher's office reading,

"The Years of the Lotus."

The editors puzzled over what was intended and eventually, taking into account Churchill's tendency for over-writing and following through the association between lotuses and slumber, arrived at the title,

"While England Slept."

The book appeared under this title and was a great success.

---------------A Final Thought ...

"If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."

- Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman, prime minister, writer