Churchill By Himself: Errata & Corrigenda

Churchill By Himself: Errata & Corrigenda

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.

Current Revisions

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.

Future revisions

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.

Other Contradictions

Robert Rhodes James’s Com­plete Speech­es or Hansard had record­ed. In these cas­es we assign pri­or­i­ty, when we have a choice, to Churchill’s own books.

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.

Errata Sheets

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:

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.

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