Churchill the middlebrow

Churchill the middlebrow

The literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor

by Jonathan Rose

Yale University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 hb, 528 pp, 9780300204070

On the rear jacket of this fascinating and important book is a picture of Winston Churchill at his desk at Chartwell, his house in Kent, just a few months before the outbreak of World War II. Apparently caught in the moment of literary creation, cigar in mouth and concentrating on his papers, the photo credit – to a Picture Post photographer – leads to the obvious suspicion that this was actually a staged shot. For Churchill, his country home was not merely a place of repose but a writing factory, the output of which would earn him the large sums of money necessary for its upkeep. At the same time, his image as a man of letters served to advertise the product as well as to suggest the existence of a non-political ‘hinterland’ of the kind appropriate to a statesman of fertile brain and broad views.

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Richard Toye

Richard Toye

Richard Toye is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter, UK. He is the author of, among other works, Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (2007), Churchill’s Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made (2010), and The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (2013).