Category: FAQs

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Fleming as rescuer…

The Flem­ing myth is updat­ed from an arti­cle orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1998.

Is it true that Lord Ran­dolph Churchill financed the edu­ca­tion of Alexan­der Flem­ing, the dis­cov­er­er of peni­cillin, as a result of Flem­ing (or his father) res­cu­ing Churchill from drown­ing in a swamp when young Win­ston was a youth—and a Flem­ing dis­cov­ery, peni­cillin, saved Churchill’s life years lat­er in 1943? A friend of mine has sent me this email regard­ing it and I want­ed to ver­i­fy . —L.M.

This ques­tion comes up reg­u­lar­ly, but both parts of the sto­ry are untrue. Nei­ther Alexan­der Flem­ing nor his father were with Churchill at the times sug­gest­ed.…

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Churchill’s words: Choosing between War and Shame—and getting both.

Churchill’s words: Choosing between War and Shame—and getting both.

It is fre­quent­ly asked: What did Churchill say about those who trade hon­or for peace hav­ing in nei­ther in the end?

“War and Shame”

There are two quo­ta­tions. The first was Churchill in a let­ter to Lloyd George on 13 August 1938, just before the Munich Con­fer­ence, which led to World War II a year lat­er.

I think we shall have to choose in the next few weeks between war and shame, and I have very lit­tle doubt what the deci­sion will be.

Ref­er­ence is Churchill by Him­self, page 256, quot­ing Mar­tin Gilbert, ed., The Churchill Doc­u­ments, vol.…

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Origins of Churchill Phrases: “Special Relationship” and “Iron Curtain”

Origins of Churchill Phrases: “Special Relationship” and “Iron Curtain”

Pregnant Phrases

The his­to­ri­an Christo­pher Har­mon capa­bly answers a ques­tion on the ori­gin of these famous expres­sions, and kind­ly asks me to con­firm his find­ings. They are right as usu­al. (Dr. Har­mon wrote a fre­quent­ly cit­ed mono­graph, “Are We Beasts?” Churchill on the Moral Ques­tion of World War II “Area Bomb­ing.” His five books include the grad­u­ate-lev­el text­book Ter­ror­ism Today .)

Special Relationship

Chris Har­mon writes:

“Spe­cial rela­tion­ship” appears sev­er­al times (and in sur­pris­ing ways) in Churchill’s 1946 Ful­ton speech, “The Sinews of Peace.” It is impor­tant nev­er to say that it was coined there.  I believe Churchill coined the phrase in a pri­vate let­ter to Clement Attlee in ear­ly Octo­ber 1945.…

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