Clarke enhances his distinguished reputation as a scholar of modern Britain (The Last Days of the British Empire) with this original perspective on Winston Churchill. Clarke defines and interprets Churchill in the context of a writing career (paralleling his more familiar roles as statesman and politician) that brought him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. Capitalizing on his family connections, encouraged by his American mother, Churchill published two books by the time he was 25. His authorized collected works require 34 volumes. Memoirs, biography, history, and fiction—Churchill essayed them all. Clarke considers Churchill’s defining work not the more familiar History of the Second World War but his four-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Begun in 1938–1939, polished and published n the 1950s, it was conceived and constructed in a political context, to demonstrate a “special relationship” between Britain and the U.S. Looking at the development of the idea of “the English-speaking peoples,” Clarke also demonstrates that the manuscript expressed Churchill’s need to emphasize the link between America and Britain as events advanced toward the outbreak of war. Winston Churchill was a man of action and of oratory; as Clarke underscores, he was also a formidable man of letters. (June)
“[A] delightful, informative, and worthy addition to the groaning shelf of Churchill biography” Globe and Mail (Canada)
“In Mr. Churchill's Profession, an account of his career as an author, Peter Clarke argues that writing was not merely Churchill's vocation but the very center of his working life…” Maya Jasonoff, Wall Street Journal
“Detailing Churchill's writing aids of whiskey and stenographers as well as his income, Clarke will interest many in Churchill's authorial career.” Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
“Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.” Kirkus Reviews
“Clarke enhances his distinguished reputation as a scholar of modern Britain … with this original perspective on Winston Churchill.” Publishers Weekly
A detailed examination of Winston Churchill the author. British historian Clarke (Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist, 2009, etc.) has studied Churchill for decades, but the author has been bothered by a gap in the scholarship concerning the critical evaluation of the statesman's literary interests. Churchill, born to a privileged life, began writing and publishing learned, well-written books while still in his 20s. He expected renown as an author, never anticipating that his apparently washed-up political career would be rejuvenated by World War II. Clarke is most interested in the decades-long gestation of the four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. The project would have been massive if Churchill had committed to no other ventures, but the difficulty expanded exponentially because he had agreed to write so many other books, partly because of his desire to attract audiences, partly because his spendthrift ways left him almost perpetually in debt. Clarke clearly admires Churchill's talent and persistence as an author, but he is candid about Churchill's periodic bouts of procrastination and outright lies to publishers about the pace of manuscript progress. As Churchill realized he would never finish all of his book projects unaided, he relied on the scholarship of others (both compensated and uncompensated). Clarke provides painstakingly researched accounts of the individuals who might have earned the status of co-author in a world less seduced by famous names. The author's elucidation of Churchill the writer necessarily delves into biographical elements, including the influences of Churchill's glamorous, famous father and mother on the son's writings. Original, gap-filling, engagingly presented scholarship.