Winston Churchill - Family and Early Life

Family and Early Life

Born into the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Marlborough, a branch of the noble Spencer family, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, like his father, used the surname "Churchill" in public life. His ancestor George Spencer had changed his surname to Spencer-Churchill in 1817 when he became Duke of Marlborough, to highlight his descent from John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Winston's father, Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, was a politician; and his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (née Jennie Jerome) was the daughter of American millionaire Leonard Jerome. Winston was born on 30 November 1874, two months prematurely, in a bedroom in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

From age two to six, he lived in Dublin, where his grandfather had been appointed Viceroy and employed Churchill's father as his private secretary. Churchill's brother, John Strange Spencer-Churchill, was born during this time in Ireland. It has been claimed that the young Winston first developed his fascination with military matters from watching the many parades pass by the Vice Regal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland).

Churchill's earliest exposure to education occurred in Dublin, where a governess tried teaching him reading, writing, and arithmetic (his first reading book was called 'Reading Without Tears'). With limited contact with his parents, Churchill became very close to his nanny, 'Mrs' Elizabeth Anne Everest, whom he called 'Old Woom'. She served as his confidante, nurse, and mother substitute. The two spent many happy hours playing in the Phoenix Park.

Independent and rebellious by nature, Churchill generally had a poor academic record in school, for which he was punished. He was educated at three independent schools: St. George's School, Ascot, Berkshire; Brunswick School in Hove, near Brighton (the school has since been renamed Stoke Brunswick School and relocated to Ashurst Wood in West Sussex); and at Harrow School from 17 April 1888. Within weeks of his arrival at Harrow, Churchill had joined the Harrow Rifle Corps.

Churchill was rarely visited by his mother, and wrote letters begging her either to come to the school or to allow him to come home. His relationship with his father was distant; he once remarked that they barely spoke to one another. His father died on 24 January 1895, aged 45, leaving Churchill with the conviction that he too would die young and so should be quick about making his mark on the world.

Read more about this topic:  Winston Churchill

Famous quotes containing the words family and, family, early and/or life:

    Overcome the Empyrean; hurl
    Heaven and Earth out of their places,
    That in the same calamity
    Brother and brother, friend and friend,
    Family and family,
    City and city may contend.
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

    ... the school should be an appendage of the family state, and modeled on its primary principle, which is, to train the ignorant and weak by self-sacrificing labor and love; and to bestow the most on the weakest, the most undeveloped, and the most sinful.
    Catherine E. Beecher (1800–1878)

    I do not know that I meet, in any of my Walks, Objects which move both my Spleen and Laughter so effectually, as those Young Fellows ... who rise early for no other Purpose but to publish their Laziness.
    Richard Steele (1672–1729)

    I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.
    Lauren Bacall (b. 1924)