Churchill by Himself…
is the only Churchill quote book with each entry referenced with a date and source. There’s even an appendix on incorrect quotations (called “Red Herrings”), and why they are not Churchill’s. By Himself is the only Churchill quote book to undergo repeated reviews. The object is a text as close to Churchill’s original words as possible.
Just before the first publication in 2008, we found that a transcriber had made errors in copying out many quotations. Despite a mammoth last minute effort they were not all caught. Two devoted proofreaders, Dave Turrell and Barbara Langworth, were determined to get it right. I owe them far more than they were paid.
Any book containing as many references as this one is a constant 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 are in the American Rosetta Kindle edition. 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. I do not recommend the American edition published by Public Affairs, which has never updated their text.
Recently we began a review of every individual entry. We are also developing a new expanded edition. This will cointain 500 new quotations, making nearly 5000 in all. Many appeared for the first time in Hillsdale’s companion volumes to the official biography: The Churchill Documents.
Ultimately, will produce digital links with an electronic search system being developed by the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. The goal is to link all quote references in Churchill by Himself to an online research site.
Churchill Revises 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 first, and his later editions. Churchill was a tireless reviser and often altered later editions. 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 the book to point out these variations, when significant.
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.
In checking each entry against its original version, we found most errors to be trivial, not affecting Churchill’s meaning; nevertheless they must go. 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: https://richardlangworth.com/contact
Also on this website are the latest editions to the “Red Herrings” appendix, a popular part of Churchill by Himself. These popular quotations incorrectly ascribed to him. Either he never said said them, or, when he said them, 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.