One remark I love to quote but cannot locate is WSC’s self avowed quest for fame by “notability or notoriety.” Great word play. The best I can remember is seeing it in one of the early companion volumes of the official biography, edited by his son Randolph. —M.W., New Jersey
I have sent this to several colleagues to help fathom, because I cannot provide you with the reference. In searching my scanned data, the only instance of “notability and notoriety” (together) is in Finest Hour 99, p 19 (“Patterns in Churchill’s Charmed Life” by Manfred Weidhorn). Professor Weidhorn wrote: “The law of averages dictates that some of these dreamers succeed. Churchill was one of them. Hence he is the hero of our hypothetical non-realistic novel. As a young man, Churchill put the world on notice with his memorably declared resolve to be an achiever by either ‘notability or notoriety.’”
There are 1000 occurrences of “notability” (including for “notable,” etc.) in the Churchill canon, but only 121 for “notoriety,” which makes it feasible to look at each, and I did—but no reference includes “notability” in the phrase except the one in Finest Hour. Odd, because Prof. Weidhorn is rarely wrong, and was evidently quoting him from somewhere. Yet the only quotation I could find that was even close was in Churchill’s autobiography My Early Life, 1930 edition, 231:
I was not to be done out of the campaign. I was not to languish as a prisoner. I was to escape, and by escaping was to gain a public reputation or notoriety which made me well-known henceforward among my countrymen, and made me acceptable as a candidate in a great many constituencies.
When it came to painting, interestingly, Churchill contradicted himself, writing in his article, “The Academy Reveals Britain’s Brave Gaiety” (Daily Mail, 7 May 1932), reprinted in the Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, vol. IV, 105:
Excursions into bizarre impressionism may be accepted from those who
have proved their credentials. But slap-dash and short cuts to fame or
notoriety are evidently, and rightly, discouraged.