About Sir Winston Churchill

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Sir Winston Churchill

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was formed in 1965 with the principal objective of perpetuating and honouring Sir Winston’s memory by the awarding of ‘Churchill Fellowships’.

As time passes and those with first-hand knowledge of his life and achievements inevitably diminish, the task of perpetuating Sir Winston’s memory becomes increasingly important. We should acknowledge that when considered from a contemporary perspective, some of Sir Winston’s decisions and views now appear awkward or wrong, particularly on matters of race. Acknowledging this should not undermine the historical significance of Winston Churchill or imply that his achievements should be re-written.

In being open-minded to different viewpoints, impacts and the context of his actions we aim to encourage people to learn more about Winston Churchill and engage in constructive discussion.

Winston Churchill’s life has been more comprehensively documented, warts and all, than almost any other person. It is a veritable open book. His own prodigious writing and literary achievements have contributed to this, as have the many books and articles written by others, a list which continues to grow year by year.

While the main focus has naturally been on his positive achievements, especially – but far from exclusively – his leadership during the Second World War, his flaws have hardly remained secret. This is also as it should be. Few people are paragons of virtue without blemish, especially when viewed with the benefit of hindsight or the comfort of an armchair, and Churchill wasn’t. A leader of his stature and achievement clearly had optimism and self-confidence in abundance, not to mention strength (physical and mental) which enabled him to withstand the pressures and stress to which he was subjected. But Churchill also had well-known bouts of depression and self-doubt throughout his life.

As a contribution to hopefully a more constructive and thoughtful debate, the Trust has decided to commission a series of articles to offer contemporary assessments of Churchill from a variety of perspectives. In commissioning and publishing these essays, the Trust hopes to demonstrate that it is open to contemporary appraisal of the person in whose name it operates.

Three such essays appear here, written by:

Professor Tom Calma AO, an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the NT. Tom is Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, and a Patron of the Winston Churchill Trust. Read the essay

Dr Susan Carland, an academic, author, and social commentator. Susan has a PhD from Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, where she is the Director of the Bachelor of Global Studies. In 2019, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to explore practical strategies for countering Islamophobia. Read the essay

Ms Lainie Anderson, an Adelaide-based journalist and commentator, whose 2016 Churchill Fellowship researched and traced the 1919 Britain-Australia Air Race, won by Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith, and has subsequently been published as a book and documentary. Read the essay

We encourage you to read these essays and to draw on multiple sources of information and perspectives as you learn more about Winston Churchill and make your own mind up about his role in history and continuing relevance today.


More about Sir Winston

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill has been described by historians as “the greatest statesman of the 20th century”. Early in his military career he was a war correspondent and saw action in Cuba, Egypt, India and Sudan. At the age of 25 he entered the British House of Commons and began his political career which would span nearly sixty years across the reigns of six sovereigns. His roles included First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of Munitions, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

From a seemingly hopeless position in World War II, Churchill’s leadership rallied the British people to prepare to resist invasion and sustain air attacks on their country during the Battle of Britain and then the Blitz. His inspiration led to the Commonwealth, Empire and eventually American Forces building the combined Allied strength to achieve final victory over Hitler some five and a half years later.

Those who lived through the years of World War II are unlikely to forget the vital role Churchill played in ridding the world of a tyranny the full magnitude of which was only revealed after the final victory was won.

Churchill was known as an avid reader and scholar, painter, journalist and author. In addition to his newspaper articles he wrote books, a novel, biographies, memoirs and histories. His most famous works were his six volume memoirs ‘The Second World War’ and a four volume history ‘A History of the English-Speaking Peoples’. His other works included the novel ‘Savrola’, biographies of his father ‘Lord Randolph Churchill’ and his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough and a history of the first world war ‘The World Crisis’ which ran to four volumes. Churchill is also known for his love of cigars, brandy, the famous V for victory salute and his outstanding oratory skill.