My Darling Winston
The Letters Between Winston Churchill and His Mother
“My pen wanders recklessly,” wrote Winston Churchill of the sparkling letters he exchanged with his mother, Jennie Jerome, over a period of 40 years. David Lough’s lecture, based on the first-ever edited selection of their correspondence, sheds new light on Churchill’s early emotional, intellectual and political development. Spanning from 1881 to1921, these missives follow Churchill’s life of adventure and political ambition, covering many milestones: his army service in India, time as a prisoner of war, election to Parliament, resignation after Gallipoli, and his return to politics in 1917.
His mother’s life, by contrast, follows a downward spiral: her second marriage founders and she becomes a lonely figure, moving forlornly around the country homes of her wealthy friends. Their letters disclose an intense relationship between a demanding mother and a difficult son, both gifted writers who reveal much about themselves and the time period. Churchill’s missives reveal his personality as a young child and a truculent teen, looking to his mother to fix everything—which she usually did. Jerome’s letters reveal a dynamic woman leveraging limited agency in a sexist society.
Brimming with gossip, name-dropping and chutzpah, and populated by an impressive cast of late Victorian and Edwardian characters, Mr. Lough’s lecture will enrich our understanding of Britain’s most celebrated statesman. He will offer poignant insights into Churchill’s relationship with the woman whose advice and loving encouragement set him on the path to power.
Thank you to our co-sponsors: The International Churchill Society; The English-Speaking Union of New York (ESU)