Churchill by Himself
…is the only Churchill quotations book with each entry referenced with a date and source. There’s even an appendix on incorrect quotations (called “Red Herrings”), stating why they are not Churchill’s. By Himself is also the only Churchill quote book that has undergone repeated reviews to produce a text as close to Churchill’s original words as possible. Fortunately, it’s been continuously in print for over ten years, making constant revision possible.
Just before the first publication in 2008, we found that a transcriber had made many errors in copying out quotations. Despite a mammoth last minute effort (which cost most of our advance), they were not all caught. Two devoted proofreaders, Dave Turrell and Barbara Langworth, were determined to get it right, whatever it took. I owe them far more than they were paid.
Any book containing as many references as this one is a constant running battle between contrary sources, “experts” who disagree with each other, and inexorable deadlines. We corrected the major transcription errors and issued an initial list of errata for the first American and first British editions.
These corrections were entered in the American Rosetta Kindle edition and second hardbound British edition (distinguished by a dust jacket that does not cut off the top of WSC’s head, as in the first British). Also available, with corrections, is the third British edition (softbound), with an admirable new cover and a new title: Churchill in His Own Words. If you prefer a print to an electronic edition, I recommend this one.
The Third British edition, Churchill in His Own Words, and the Kindle edition, have a feature not found in earlier versions. Appendix IV is now a comprehensive phrase index, which greatly abets the index itself. It pinpoints scores of common phrases that are most often sought by readers. If you own an edition without this index, contact me for a copy by email. (The pagination in all editions remains the same.)
Recently we began a review of every individual entry in Churchill by Himself. We also undertook an future expanded edition, with up to 500 new quotations making nearly 5000 in all. Many noteworthy quotes appeared for the first time in Hillsdale’s companion volumes to the official biography: The Churchill Documents.
Ultimately, we hope to evolve to digital links with an electronic research system being developed by the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. The ultimate goal is to link all quote references in Churchill by Himself to a Churchill Project archival research site available online to students, scholars and the public.
Churchill Revised Himself
This is a satisfying if laborious process. It is also an education. For example, we found many detail variations in wording or punctuation between what Churchill published in his original volumes and later editions. Churchill was a tireless reviser and often altered his texts. Only a few weeks ago we learned of key changes in his 1948 Norway speeches, entered in his corresponding book of speeches, Europe Unite. It’s the job of Churchill by Himself to point out these variations, when significant.
Puzzles and Contradictions
Even Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography is subject to variations. For instance, Churchill By Himself on page 360 carries Churchill’s wonderful valedictory to Eddie Marsh, from Sir Martin’s Volume VIII (published 1988): “All his long life was serene, and he left that world I trust without a pang and I am sure without a fear.”
But in Christopher Hassall’s biography of Marsh (published 1959), the quote reads “this world” not “that world.” and has more commas: “…he left this world, I trust, without a pang, and I am sure without a fear.”
Sir Martin’s version is good enough for me, and if ever I contradict him, it will be when I find different wording in one of Churchill’s own works. I am indifferent to missing commas, which appear and vanish in various texts; but I retain any change that seems critical. We have not attempted to reconcile instances of English and American spelling. The word “organisation/organization,” for example, was used interchangeably, even in English works. There is only so much rationalizing you can do before you drive yourself mad.
We checked each entry against its original version. Most errors were trivial, not affecting Churchill’s meaning. Nevertheless we rooted them out. The British second edition corrected many, but there are more, ranging from a misplaced comma to a mangled word or phrase. We maintain a running complete errata sheet for anyone who wishes it. Please contact me through the contact form on this website.
Also on this website are the latest editions to the “Red Herrings” appendix, a popular part of Churchill by Himself. These are remarks wrongly attributed to WSC. He never said them. Or, if he did, he quoted someone else.
For me, the best errata sheet of all will be the fourth and final edition of Churchill by Himself: In His Own Words, the culmination of a thirty-year troll through Churchill’s inimitable prose.