How Many Words Did Sir Winston Churchill Write?

How Many Words Did Sir Winston Churchill Write?

How Many Speeches, How Many Words?

A col­league asks: “How many speech­es did Churchill make, and in how many words? Also, how many words did he write in his books and arti­cles?

Speech­es: To be pre­cise you’d have to count (I won’t!) the speech­es list­ed in the Win­ston S. Churchill: His Complete Speech­es 1897-1963Rough esti­mate: there are forty speech­es per page of con­tents, about eight pages per vol­ume and eight volumes—so, at a guess, 2500 speech­es. But the Com­plete Speech­es are not quite complete—try to find his famous Dur­ban speech after escap­ing from the Boers in 1899, for example—and some are only excerpts—as from his lec­ture tours of North Amer­i­ca. And you have to deduct the notes by the edi­tor. But let’s add say 10% for miss­ing ver­biage and say he made about 3000 speech­es

As to word count, assum­ing all words are in plain text, there are 5.2 mil­lion words in the Com­plete Speech­es (at eight vol­umes, Churchill’s longest book-length work). So a good esti­mate, includ­ing miss­ing ver­biage, would be close to six mil­lion words.

How many words in books and articles?

Through the won­ders of com­put­er sci­ence (via Ian Lang­worth), I can advise that the present cor­pus of works by and about Win­ston S. Churchill exceeds 50 mil­lion words (325 megabytes) includ­ing 13 mil­lion (80 megabytes) by Churchill him­self (which also includes his pri­vate let­ters and papers in the doc­u­ment vol­umes of the offi­cial biog­ra­phy). Here are his the top ten word counts among his books:

Win­ston S. Churchill: His Com­plete Speech­es 1897-1963: 5,200,000

The Sec­ond World War1,600,000 (not count­ing appen­dices)

The Col­lect­ed Essays of Sir Win­ston Churchill (arti­cles not reprint­ed in his books): 860,000

The World Cri­sis: 824,000*

Marl­bor­ough: His Life and Times: 779,000 (not count­ing appen­dices)

A His­to­ry of the Eng­lish-Speak­ing Peo­ples: 510,000 (not count­ing appen­dices)

Lord Ran­dolph Churchill278,000

The Riv­er War: 200,000

This dis­cov­ery led the offi­cial biog­ra­ph­er, Sir Mar­tin Gilbert to ask about the word count for the offi­cial biog­ra­phy. The total for the eight bio­graph­ic vol­umes (includ­ing the first two by Ran­dolph Churchill) is over 3,000,000 words. The nine­teen Com­pan­ion or Doc­u­ment Vol­umes pub­lished to date adds anoth­er 8,000,00, for a grand total of over 11,000,000 words (60+ megabytes).

Digital Capacities

words
Pho­tograh by Ian Lang­worth @statico

This does not impress com­put­er engi­neers, but it does me: a sin­gle, old fash­ioned 250 giga­byte hard dri­ve plat­ter would hold over 1800 copies of all Churchill’s words and all the words in the Offi­cial Biog­ra­phy.

A mod­ern hard dri­ve holds about 3 terrabytes (3000 giga­bytes). There­fore, your computer’s hard dri­ve could prob­a­bly hold about 200,000 copies of Churchill’s works and the Offi­cial Biog­ra­phy.

What would Sir Win­ston make of this? We do know what his biog­ra­ph­er thinks. Some­one once told Sir Mar­tin Gilbert,  “You’ve only pub­lished one-tenth of Churchill’s sto­ry!” Sir Mar­tin replied: “That much?”

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