On their 40th wedding anniversary, Winston Churchill sent the following message to his wife Clementine: My Beloved, I send this token, but how little can it express my gratitude to you for making my life and any work I have done possible, and for giving me so much happiness in a world of accident and storm. Your ever loving and devoted husband, W.
Their six-month courtship in 1908 led to a 57-year marriage. Winston had been elected to Parliament in 1900 and, at the time they married, was also President of the Board of Trade. His passion for politics and public service would take him in the years to come to primary leadership roles in both World Wars and acclaim as the greatest Western statesman of the 20th century. Their marriage survived the often turbulent seas of politics and was a source of strength throughout the years.
We are given an extraordinary look at the famous couple and their world through Winston and Clementine. Edited by Mary Soames, their youngest and only surviving child, this remarkable collection enables us to see them as individuals in the context of their times and understand the depth of their devotion to one another.
The Churchills preferred letter writing, and an occasional telegraph, to the telephone. One would expect Winston to be a good corespondent. He made his living, at least in part, as an author and received the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature. His letters are well written, but so are Clementine's. She is a keen observer, has good insight into people, and expresses herself clearly with sensitivity and grace. She does not hesitate to put forth her own opinions when she disagrees with her husband. An important aspect of this book is the editor's admirable historical and personal commentary about matters that place the letters in proper context. Soames also helpfully identifies persons as they are mentioned in the letters. In addition, there are Biographical Notes at the back, which give more detailed information about some of those closest to the Churchills. Winston and Clementine is a treasure and a delight.
Roger Bishop is a regular contributor to BookPage.