Churchill By Himself: Errata & Corrigenda

Churchill By Himself: Errata & Corrigenda

Sec­ond Ebury Edi­tion

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”), stat­ing why they are not Churchill’s. It is also the only Churchill quote book that has under­gone check­ing to pro­duce 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 (which cost most of our advance), they were not all caught—as one proof­read­er lat­er informed me! Two proof­read­ers, Dave Tur­rell and Bar­bara Lang­worth, were devot­ed to get­ting 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 sec­ond British edi­tion (dis­tin­guished by a dust jack­et that does not cut off the top of WSC’s head, as in the first British). The sec­ond British edi­tion (above) is avail­able from Ama­zon UK. Click on this link. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it will cost more to buy­ers in North Amer­i­ca, but it is cur­rent­ly the most updat­ed edi­tion.

In 2010 we began a review of every indi­vid­ual entry in the book, which is now evolv­ing toward dig­i­tal forms: in com­bi­na­tion with the Churchill Archives’ Web-based research sys­tem being devel­oped by Blooms­bury Pub­lish­ing; and an E-book, as well as print ver­sions of the next edi­tion. My ulti­mate goal is to link all quote ref­er­ences in the book to Bloomsbury’s archival research site.

This has proven a sat­is­fy­ing if labo­ri­ous process—and an edu­ca­tion. For exam­ple, we found many detail vari­a­tions in word­ing or punc­tu­a­tion between what Churchill pub­lished in his orig­i­nal speech vol­umes and what Robert Rhodes James’s Com­plete Speech­es or Hansard had record­ed. We always assign pri­or­i­ty to the first known ver­sion of any quote—and, when we have a choice, to Churchill’s own books.

Even Sir Mar­tin Gilbert’s offi­cial biog­ra­phy is sub­ject to such quan­daries. 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 all that seem crit­i­cal. I have not attempt­ed to rec­on­cile instances of Eng­lish and Amer­i­can spelling, such as the word “organisation/organization,” which Churchill 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 are near­ing the end of our task and will soon have a com­plete erra­ta sheet for any­one who wish­es it.

In the mean­time, we offer erra­ta sheets depend­ing on which edi­tion of the book you have:

1) For the basic erra­ta slip for the first edi­tions (British and Amer­i­can), please con­tact me through the con­tact form on this web­site:

2) For an up-to-the-minute (but not yet final) erra­ta slip for the sec­ond British edi­tion, which is still being com­piled, please con­tact me like­wise.

For me, the best erra­ta sheet of all will be the third and final edi­tion, and the E-book devel­oped from it: the wind-up of a riv­et­ing, 20-year troll through Churchill’s inim­itable prose. —RML

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