Non-Churchill Quotes: A Porny Issue

by Richard Langworth on 29 April 2011

Another golden oldie Churchill “quote” which Churchill never uttered will soon be mak­ing the Twit­ter rounds, and this one is a bit off-color. Colum­nist Jonah Gold­berg uses it to reflect on “A Thorny Porn-y Issue for the New York Pub­lic Library.” No prob­lem with his point about the NY Pub­lic, but this quote is not Churchill’s in any way.

For col­lec­tors of Churchillian red her­rings, here’s the alleged exchange: Churchill report­edly says to a woman at a party, “Madam, would you sleep with me for 5 mil­lion pounds?” The woman stam­mers: “My good­ness, Mr. Churchill. Well, yes, I sup­pose …” Churchill inter­rupts: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?” The woman responds imme­di­ately: “What? Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?!” Churchill replies: “Madam, we’ve already estab­lished that. Now we are hag­gling about the price.” Amusing–but no cigar.

Like the famous, equally fic­ti­tious encounter with Nancy Astor (“If I were mar­ried to you, I’d put poi­son in your coffee”….”If I were mar­ried to you, I’d drink it”—almost cer­tainly an Astor exchange with Churchill’s friend F.E. Smith, Lord Birken­head, who was much faster off the cuff), this put-down of the oppo­site sex sim­ply can­not be found among Churchill’s 15 mil­lion pub­lished words—books, arti­cles, speeches, papers—or mem­oirs by his col­leagues and fam­ily. This hasn’t pre­vented it work­ing its way into one or two spu­ri­ous quo­ta­tion books, and, of course, the Internet.

As his daugh­ter says, Sir Win­ston tended to treat women with Vic­to­rian gal­lantry. He was so daz­zled by Vivien Leigh, star of Gone with the Wind, that he became unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cally tongue-tied. When he met actress Merle Oberon on a beach in the South of France after World War II, he turned som­er­saults in the water. Puri­ent jests were not in his make-up.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

gilbert May 5, 2011 at 09:55

imaginative people . churchill wrote and said so much why invent and forge.

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