In 1917, The World Book Encyclopedia found him important enough to merit a 2-paragraph biography. A picture caption identified him as an “English author, soldier and statesman.” The article’s lead sentence called him “one of the best-known of the modern group of English statesmen.” Can you guess who he was?
Achievements to 1917. He had served in the British army in India and northern Africa and as a war correspondent in South Africa. He entered Parliament in 1900 as a Conservative, but “he rose to distinction in the House of Commons as a Liberal.”
He became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. In 1915, during the War of the Nations (that is, World War I), he supported a campaign in the Dardanelles that failed disastrously. He resigned from the Admiralty and joined the British Army in France.
That’s as far as the 1917 article went, but he wasn’t done yet.
Life goes on. The World Book of 2017 continues the story with his return to the Cabinet in mid-1917. The current article discusses his life in the interval between the end of one world war and the beginning of another. During that time, he painted, wrote history books—and switched back to the Conservative Party.
After World War II began in September 1939, he was reappointed as First Lord of the Admiralty. The following spring, as German troops swept across Europe, he became prime minister of the United Kingdom. World Book says his “personal courage, the magic of his words, and his faith in victory inspired the British to ‘their finest hour’” as he led his nation to victory.
After the war, he continued in government, painted, and wrote books (winning a Nobel Prize in literature in 1953).
His service to his country had begun in 1895 under Queen Victoria and lasted until 1964 in the reign of Elizabeth II, Victoria’s great-great granddaughter. Today’s 57-paragraph World Book biography of him calls him “one of the greatest statesmen in world history.”
So, who was he? Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill.
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THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA 2017
Celebrating 100 years of publication!