The Churchills: A Family Portrait

Overview

The Churchills dominated world politics for generations—but, like every family, they too have their secrets. Winston’s mother, Jennie, had an affair with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and her spendthrift habits devastated the family’s reputation. The younger brother, Jack, played a crucial role both in Winston’s successes and in holding the family together during tough times. From Sir Randolph’s alleged syphilis to Winston’s illegitimacy, from Jennie’s gambling problem to Jack’s dashed ambitions, ...

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The Churchills: A Family Portrait

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Overview

The Churchills dominated world politics for generations—but, like every family, they too have their secrets. Winston’s mother, Jennie, had an affair with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and her spendthrift habits devastated the family’s reputation. The younger brother, Jack, played a crucial role both in Winston’s successes and in holding the family together during tough times. From Sir Randolph’s alleged syphilis to Winston’s illegitimacy, from Jennie’s gambling problem to Jack’s dashed ambitions, authors Celia and John Lee use never-before-seen archives to cut through the rumors and lies and get to the truth about the life of the former prime minister and his relationship with his family.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A] highly readable biography of Winston Churchill . . . Biographies of the . . .  British leader abound, but the Lees offer an intriguing addition.”—Kirkus Reviews
 

"A fascinating new book by the historians Celia and John Lee, who were granted unique access to the private papers of Winston’s nephew, the late Peregrine Churchill, is set to challenge common misunderstandings about the family dynamic…In particular, re-introducing Winston’s little-known younger brother, Jack, into the story has proved to be the key to appreciating the truth about several mysterious aspects of the astonishing tale of the Spencer-Churchills…The caricature of an uncaring father is swept away by the Lees’ study of the correspondence Lord Randolph maintained with his sons and with others about them throughout his frenetic but short life…The Lees have done Churchillian history a great service with their diligence, throwing light on a part of the story that has not hitherto been fully understood."--Andrew Roberts, author of Masters and Commanders and The Storm of War

 
"Fascinating...[This] new book by husband-and-wife historians John and Celia Lee is set to challenge common misunderstandings about the family dynamic.The Lees have done Churchillian history a great service with their diligence, throwing light on a part of the story that has not hitherto been fully understood." --The Telegraph (UK)
 

"By their careful re-reading of the known letters between the principal characters, and the blending in of new material from Peregrine Churchill's archive, Celia and John Lee add enormously to our understanding of the great Churchill family."--Allen Packwood, Director, Churchill Archives Centre, University of Cambridge

“This book brings Winston’s brother Jack into the picture as no previous work and is a valuable contribution to our knowledge.”--Richard M. Langworth CBE, Editor, Finest Hour, The Churchill Centre

"An interesting overview of the modern Churchill family. . . . The death of Lord Randolph Churchill, Jennie's multiple affairs and massive debts, the service of Winston and Jack in the Boer War and WWI, and Winston's rise to power in WWII provide a . . . tale worthy of classical drama."--Publishers Weekly

"[A] highly readable biography of Winston Churchill (1874–1965), closely focusing on his youth and family life. Biographies of the cigar-chewing, pugnacious British leader abound, but the Lees offer an intriguing addition. Drawing on little-visited archives, the authors reveal much news. . . . Admirers of Churchill and collectors of the considerable literature surrounding his life will find plenty to chew on in this all-too-lively life." -- Kirkus Reviews

 
"This is a fine examination of a celebrated family that is ideal for general readers." --Booklist
 

"...remarkable assertions are made by husband-and-wife historians Celia and John Lee in their new biography of the Churchill family, based on thousands of documents kept secret for years in a locked room by Winston's late nephew, Peregrine Churchill." --London Evening Standard
 
"The Churchills – A Family Portrait, sheds fresh light on Winston’s upbringing and dispels some of the myths that sprang up about the family." --Express.co.uk

"After the millions of words written to date about Sir Winston Churchill and his family, it is a triumph to come up with something fresh." --Global News Box

"Celia and John Lee, in a book that is determined to give the invisible Churchill his due…succeed in returning Jack to his proper place in the story of the family." --Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times

"Prepare to have almost everything you thought you knew about Winston Churchill's upbringing completely revised." --Mail on Sunday Review

"...has the aura of authenticity and authority." --Choice

"Fans have already applauded the Lees' research. Rightly so. A dilligent biography of the Churchill clan."--The Catholic Herald
 

“This intriguing book looks at the skeletons in the Churchill family cupboard using previously unseen family archives.”—The Good Book Guide

Publishers Weekly
Celia Lee, a member of the International Churchill Society, and John Lee, a former executive officer of the British Commission for Military History, have produced an interesting overview of the modern Churchill family. Written partly to remind the world of the existence of Sir Winston Churchill's younger brother, Jack, and partly to clear away the myths shrouding the family's history, the narrative describes the impact of the boys' politician-father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and their mother, the beautiful and self-centered American-born Jennie Jerome Churchill, on Britain's society, politics and legacy. While Winston and Jack's parents were often unable to see beyond their own needs and ambitions, the boys absorbed a strong sense of family duty. Winston, by far the more flamboyant of the two, quickly captures the reader's attention, though Jack could accurately be described as the steadier, more serious sibling. The death of Lord Randolph Churchill, Jennie's multiple affairs and massive debts, the service of Winston and Jack in the Boer War and WWI, and Winston's rise to power in WWII provide a sometimes repetitive tale but one worthy of classical drama. Photos. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Curiously organized but highly readable biography of Winston Churchill (1874-1965), closely focusing on his youth and family life. Biographies of the cigar-chewing, pugnacious British leader abound, but the Lees offer an intriguing addition. Drawing on little-visited archives, the authors reveal much news-though some is delivered in a long author's note at the end of the book rather than being fully revealed in chronological order throughout the narrative. One of the revelations is that Lord Randolph Churchill almost certainly did not die of syphilis, a charge that was first leveled in Frank Harris's semi-pornographic memoir My Life and Loves (1922) and that Churchill's many political enemies exploited to no end, shaming young Winston in the process. It would be unsporting to reveal more here, but suffice it to say that several other of the Lees' talking points will force a revision of the received picture of the Churchills, assuming they survive the scrutiny of other historians. The bulk of the book is a conventional, well-written narrative that chronicles Churchill's complex relationship with his brother, his equally complex relationship with money, his accomplishments and failures as a soldier and military leader, his unflagging work ethic and his sometimes thin-skinned approach to the world. Jennie Churchill, Winston's mother, comes off a touch worse for the wear, but she emerges as a thoroughly modern woman who might have been more at home today than in the Victorian and Edwardian eras-yet one who was also devoted to her sons, for all her faults. Admirers of Churchill and collectors of the considerable literature surrounding his life will find plenty to chew on in this all-too-livelylife.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230112209
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 981,983
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Celia and John Lee are Honorary Research Fellows of the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham, members of the British Commission for Military History, the Gallipoli Association, the Western Front Association, the Douglas Haig Fellowship, the Churchill Center (UK), and the Biographers' Club.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
• Chapter 1: Love at First Sight (1873 - 1876)
• Chapter 2. An Irish 'Exile' 1876-1880
• Chapter 3. A Political Star is Born 1880-1882
• Chapter 4. A Sea of Troubles 1882-1885
• Chapter 5. A Shooting Star Burns Out 1885-1886
• Chapter 6. A Happy Family Again? 1887-1889
• Chapter 7. Looking for Gold 1890-1892
• Chapter 8. One 'Handful'; One Model Child 1892-1893
• Chapter 9. Settling the Boys' Future 1893-1894
• Chapter 10. The Last Journey 1894-1895
• Chapter 11. A Royal Affair: Jennie and the Prince of Wales
• Chapter 12. Financial Worries and Career Development 1895-1897
• Chapter 13. Financial Crisis and a Career Denied 1898-1899
• Chapter 14. Brothers in Arms: War in South Africa 1899-1900
• Chapter 15. Getting On 1900 - 1906
• Chapter 16. Two Brides for Two Brothers 1907-1908
• Chapter 17. Liberal Britain 1909 - 1914
• Chapter 18. A World at War: From the Western Front to Gallipoli 1914-1915
• Chapter 19. Seeing it Through 1916-1918
• Chapter 20. Post War Britain 1919 - 1929
• Chapter 21. From the Wilderness to Downing Street 1929-1940
• Chapter 22. Their Finest Hour 1940-1945
• Chapter 23. The End if it All 1945-1965
• Notes
• Sources and Bibliography
• Annotated Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2010

    The Churchill's the family history that History overlooks

    The thousands of books on Winston Churchill and his family always revolve around its most famous member. Sir Winston Churchill (rightly so). However, what is lost many times is Winston Churchills rather diffucult upbringing, lack of affection from his parents, his beautiful mother, troubled father, and most notably his brother Jack. This book opens some unknown family background rarely discussed in Sir Winston's unbelievable rise to fame, and power as Great Britian's wartime leader. This is a short, concise, easy to read and follow narrative about this famous dynasty and the not so perfect family life behind the famous name.
    For the novice or devout follower of the Churchill family,and the life of the magnificent Winston Churchill this is a book to educate and add to a Churchill follower's collection. A great read about one of the 19th and 20th Century's most famous family's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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