At Teheran in 1943, Churchill told Stalin and Roosevelt that history would treat them kindly and when asked how he could be so sure, he responded, "Because I shall write the history" - which he did.
Now, with the latest row over the Churchill papers, we can all see the the lengths to which the Churchill family has gone to ensure that only Churchill family approved versions should be produced.
Let us deal first with the canard (false report) raised in some quarters about the lottery money and the Churchill papers. The Major government, often showed itself less than bright, but to buy the papers without buying the copyright was an act deserving an award for stupidity.
The papers which were thus purchased were those up to the end of the second world war. Those for the later period are the property of Lady Mary Soames, who donated them to Churchill College, Cambridge, without charging a penny for them. But they remain, of course, her property, and she, like other owners of papers at Churchill College, retains the right to permit quotation.
(In depositing them at Churchill College the personal cost and responsibility of securely housing, preserving, and insuring them were avoided. The public has had to pay these costs).
Joan Hardwick, the biographer of Churchill's wife, Clementine, is now complaining that Lady Soames has been impeding her access to personal letters between the couple.
It is, to be frank, pretty wimpish of Hardwick of not to have gone to Churchill College herself, where the keeper of the archives, Piers Brendon, would, in his usual courteous and helpful way, have informed her of her rights; historians have to be made of sterner stuff.
Yet it is surprising that such allegations, are being made against Lady Soames, not least because she has always been the sanest member of her family on the touchy subject of the Churchill legend. Her own 1979 biography of Clementine, her mother, is far from being a hagiography. (literature about the lives of saints) She revealed her mother's infatuation with the dashing young Terence Philip in the 1930s, and the picture which she painted of the Churchill marriage was far from being one of Darby and Joan waiting for the Dunmow Flitch.
(ancient British custom of giving a side of cured and salted hog to any couple who could prove married harmony for a year and a day)
Perhaps Lady Soames wanted to keep letters back which would add something fresh when her own edition of her parents' correspondence is published.
Is there no end to the making of money out of the Churchill's?* We have had, recently an illustrated edition of letters already in print in the companion volumes to the *official biography* - now we are to get another edition of letters which are, for the most part, already in the public domain.
*official biography* (ie not a biography written by the government, but by a person appointed or approved by the subject of the biography, or his or her relatives. As an "official" biographer is not independent, it follows that the biography is likely therefore to be partial and compromised).
The opportunities for the family to cash in on Winston the Great are diminishing daily, so perhaps what we have here, is a commercial decision rather than anything else.
But old habits die hard.
Churchill published 14 auto-biographical volumes. The Randolph Churchill/Martin Gilbert official biography is, at eight massive volumes plus companion volumes of documents, already the longest biography in the English language.
There exists a "International"(?) Churchill Society * to propagate the Churchill legend. The reaction of this group and the family to even mildly critical works on Churchill verges on the hysterical. * (New Hampshire USA - run by a dealer in Books & Stamps on Churchill and endorsed by the Churchill family - not to be confused with THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY London which is independent)
For years the family has been able to use the copyright on Churchill's words to prevent any version of them appearing out of which they did not make money.
Recently a collection of recorded speeches of all British prime ministers since Balfour found itself short of Churchill of quotations because of the vast sums of money demanded.
(Most of these speeches were public broadcasts).
No one (much) objected to Churchill, who was never a rich man, making money out of his own great talents; but there is something rather grubby about his less talented descendants extracting the uttermost farthing out of his legacy. The twin aims of making money and protecting the Churchill reputation have had their own effect on the history of the recent past.
The multitude of books issued by members of the family since 1965 testify culminating in the sordid history of "WINNIE".
Unknown to the general public at the time, (1985) the West End Variety Music Hall Show "WINNIE" - with Robert Hardy in the lead role - was the idea and work of Churchill's relatives - via (Duke of? ) Marlborough Enterprises. It flopped with huge losses.
The 1974 Churchill Centenary calf bound, amazingly expensive edition of "THE COLLECTED WORKS" (of Churchill) - which even rich American libraries turned down; is another reminder of just how long Churchill's relatives have been doing this.
Churchill's salary during the war - like all political salaries in those days - was minuscule. He received no golden handshake or pension after being dismissed by the electorate. He had in fact to urgently start earning his living by his pen yet again to support his wife and family and to be able to keep his beloved Chartwell.
When writing my own mildly critical biography, Churchill: The End of Glory (1992), I had to be careful not to quote anything that was in the copyright of the Churchill family. Had I not done so, then not only would I have had to pay them for the privilege (necessary in no other collection of papers), but I would have had to allow them to butcher my text.
If the Labour government really does believe in the freedom of information, then, as part of a Freedom of Information Act it will have to deal with the extremely arcane subject of copyright of political papers.
It is no use having access to documents if you have to ask for official permission to quote from them; that just reintroduces censorship by the back door.
Copyright of political papers serves no useful purpose and it is ridiculous that an historian, having done his or her research, should have to seek permission from remote descendants in order to quote from papers which are in the public domain.
A colleague of mine, writing a scholarly monograph on "corruption" in British public life, found he was treading on very thin ice with some copyright holders when seeking permission to quote from private papers; one or two stout folk did not think that grand papa should be cited in such a book!
What this latest furore over the Churchill papers has done is to focus our attention not on the grubbiness of those Churchill's who made money from the lottery, but to the more important question of who owns our past.
It also focuses attention upon the root causes of the collapse of the Conservative Party: and also the feudal idea that sons and grandsons of statesmen are entitled by right of birth to be selected to stand as MPs in safe seats.
(Comment in . . . The Guardian and The Observer Newspapers)
It is commonly assumed that if historians have access to papers, that is enough. It is not: historians should have access and the right to quote.
What has happened to Joan Hardwick happens to most historians on a daily basis.
For years our knowledge of the 1930s was restricted by the fact that both the Churchill and Chamberlain families kept their papers under an Interdict.(authoritative prohibition) The descendants of Neville Chamberlain have shown greater wisdom here than Churchill's, by letting Birmingham University Library hold the copyright to the Chamberlain papers.
It is about time this country moved out of the feudal age when it comes to modern history.
Historians should not have to depend for their work upon the caprice of descendants of some great man or woman. What a person does with his or her papers during their lifetime is one thing - but 'after' their death they should pass into the public domain.
There is a job here for Chris Smith (Minister for National Heritage) Labour.
John Charmley is Reader in History at the University of East Anglia and author of Churchill: The End of Glory.
There have now been three broadcast performances of THE CHURCHILL MUSIC in Europe and excerpts have been performed in Canada and the USA.
The Churchill family - having seized control of the publicly funded and owned Winston Churchill Memorial Trust - have been able for 25 years now to suppress the existence of this gift to them and Lady Churchill in 1974.
The BBC and Classic FM are afraid of broadcasting the work now because it would reveal the lack of honourable new music selection procedures in both organisations. Both refuse to answer any letters about THE CHURCHILL MUSIC.
Winston Churchill. House of Commons
February 11th 1943
Winston Churchill's Medals.
It was announced yesterday by Winston Churchill (minor) that he had presented on loan his grandfather's medals to the Imperial War Museum for display at the cabinet war rooms.
What he failed to reveal, was that in doing so he saves himself the fear of being burgled for them - almost certainly the heavy expense of insuring them - and whether or not he has paid the inheritance tax on them*.
Sensible man you say..............until you remember the shameful thing he and the family did when they blackmailed the effete Prime Minister John Major and his Conservative government and the nation to pay him £12,500,000 for the on loan Chartwell papers and for which the family still continue to charge outrageous copyright fees.
There is nothing to stop him or his children doing the same thing again. Likewise with the on loan contents of Chartwell.
_______________________________________________ The Times Newspaper
September 7th 1998
Mr Mark Thomas has accepted a position advising Chancellor Gordon Brown about reforming the tax system to ensure that rich people cannot cheat.
Mr Thomas was invited after his television programme revealed that Nicholas Soames (Churchill's grandson and Conservative MP and former Minister) * avoided paying inheritance tax on family heirlooms he had been left, by listing them as available to public inspection when they were not.
Where are all the many missing majestic jewelled silver and gold boxes,
the superb commemorative cut glass and enamelled plaques and mementos
and the spectacularly bejewelled solid gold and silver sculptural pieces
that were bestowed upon Churchill by foreign Kings and Queens
and the huge number of gifts given in his honour by Governments from all over the world
including many from Arab Royalty and the Emirates - all of which were originally on display
at Chartwell when it first opened and which are now missing?
It was Sir Winston's desire that all of these should be permanently on display at Chartwell.
.________________________ The only people Churchill never forgave were those who,
in the words he so often used:-
"fell beneath the level of events" _______________________
TIMES NEWSPAPER. September 23, 2004 How 25-year wrangle led to Churchill papers sale By Richard Ford
PERSONAL papers belonging to Winston Churchill were the subject of a 25-year legal fight as his grandson, who had "little money of his own", tried to sell them to the Government, files released by the National Archive at Kew reveal.
Discreet negotiations to sell the 2,000-box archive, which included early drafts of the wartime leader's "finest hour" and "Battle of Britain" speeches, began within six years of his death in 1965. The Government was offered the pre-1945 papers &emdash; half of them official papers belonging to the State &emdash; for £100,000 to £120,000 in 1971. Finally they were bought with £12.5 million of National Lottery money in 1995.
The collection, the Chartwell Papers, contained almost everything that Churchill wrote before 1945, including extensive correspondence with Lloyd George, Edward VIII and George VI. It also included intelligence on all aspects of the Second World War, drafts of letters to Stalin, Roosevelt and de Gaulle and Cabinet papers.
It was in a private family trust, which Churchill intended to benefit male descendants. The main beneficiary by 1991 was his grandson, Winston Churchill, then Conservative MP for Davyhulme. The papers were his most valuable possession.
The papers had been loaned to Churchill College in Cambridge, but the trustees wished to sell them. Successive governments wanted the papers to remain together, but they were a mixture of official and personal documents. Sir Winston had taken many official documents with him "on permanent loan" when he left office and had refused to return them. Today's files disclose that Sotheby's had estimated in 1971 that they would fetch £2 million. The letter then suggests that the Government offer between £100,000 to £120,000 to buy them.
The purchase by the lottery provoked fury. John Charmley, the historian, said: "The second jackpot winner is Winston Churchill Jr. The Government should have called the bluff of the Churchills when they threatened to break up the collection and sell it abroad. These papers belong to the State and should never have been removed in the first place."
John Major's Government refused to hold a public inquiry into the death of Robert Maxwell for fear of offending Spain, according to secret papers released today. Ministers also believed an official investigation into the circumstances in which the Daily Mirror publisher publisher drowned off the Canary Islands would turn into a media circus.
Let faith, not appetite, guide our steps.
January 21, 1950.
The Daily Telegraph
Re: Unsocial society
Date: 3 October 2004
Despite being hugely and patriotically English, I can only endorse the prescience of Kevin Myers in opting to live in Ireland.
What he says about us is completely accurate, and is tremendously dispiriting for those of us who can remember that other England, the one where care, courtesy, respect and manners were part of everyday life.
Again quite correctly he identifies the culprits as the intelligentsia (although the noun is in many respects a misnomer), who have conducted a merciless and unrelenting assault on all those things that made us what we were.
Now, from the top down, we have a yobbish culture which prevails, and we have become a society motivated by spite, envy, greed, gloating, filth and voyeurism.
The England in which I was raised and educated, and for which I would gladly have laid down my life, has been stolen from us, and we are now an awful country, probably in terminal decline, ruled over by an elite who are self-serving, duplicitious and hugely incompetent.
It is time, I think, to summon back King Arthur, or bang Drake's Drum or whatever it is that we are supposed to do in time of peril.
From: Arthur Mead, Dereham, Norfolk.
TIMES NEWSPAPER. London.
September 23, 2004
From Professor Emeritus Thomas Stapleton
' Churchill's tears'
Richard Morrison (T2, September 20) writes that Churchill is said to have been a bit of a sobber, though never in public.
Professor Robert Debr, the father of French paediatrics, told me that when in 1944 Churchill received the freedom of the City of Paris in the Hotel de Ville, on opening the casket, found it contained not a scroll but the Hakenkreuz (Nazi flag) that had flown over the town hall during the Occupation, the tears poured down his cheeks.
The Foundry Cottage,
Lane End, High Wycombe,
Buckinghamshire HP14 3JS.
THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY
The Times Newspaper
October 1st 2004.
Letter 23rd Sept 2004
Professors Stapleton's account of Churchill's reception of the Nazi flag presented to him in France in 1944 was moving.
It represented the French nation's tribute to Churchill and all his comrades in arms who lost their lives and the grief and pain of their
widows and orphans, plus the many who suffered appalling injuries.
The flag belongs to them and now to the nation.
Where is it now?
Norman Harvey Rogers.
February 13 2000
The Sunday Times Newspaper
London. A copyright article.
Lottery-funded Churchills' charge academics £50 a letter.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust's failure to honour the original Trust Deed and the need for reform.
Because of his record Mr W S Churchill's appointment as Chairman of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
is as astonishing as it is improper and he must resign.
Dalton Newfield writes in an article published in the USA re the sordid history (and inevitable failure) of the Churchill family's promotion of the fantastically expensive The Collected Works in 1974.
"I am more than a little surprised that the Churchill family gave their support to this money-grubbing project".
"It would be wonderful to own such a work".
"It would be wonderful if my - or even any US library - could own the set, let alone risk using it".
"It would be wonderful if greed were not always the family's motive".
"WSC was not unconscious of money - quite the contrary - but he did put out abridgements, cheap editions, etc., so that people at all levels could enjoy his works".
"What pains most is that the idea was all so un Churchillian", Mr Newfield concluded.
To the astonishment of the public, the Churchill family with their relatives and friends - some in The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust - let it be known in 1985 they were to produce in 1988 in a West End cabaret theatre a 'Musical' with 'Winnie' singing in his bath!
After three performances it was taken off.
It was reputed to have lost £3 million pounds and was described by a Buckingham Palace courtier as:-
"just done for
money, money, money . . . .
vulgar vulgar vulgar!"
The Churchill family to pay back The Lottery Money.
The High Court (London) proceedings. Who owned the Chartwell Papers?
From:- Professor Charmley. An Award for Stupidity!
How safe are the contents of Chartwell?
Copy of correspondence with The National Trust.
Churchill's daughter Mary Soames,
Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames,
Churchill's grandson Winston Churchill minor.
Conservative Party corruption fuelled the continuing collapse of moral standards in the UK.
From 1983 onwards it gathered pace and led to the national uproar caused by the the story
of the Churchill family threatening to sell Sir Winston and Lady Churchill's gift to Churchill College
of The Chartwell Papers.
Lord Rothschild's letter.
The very sad press chronology of Winston S Churchill Jnr.
Professor Charmley writes: Is there no end to the making of money by the family our of Sir Winston?
Commercial advertising. Cashing in on Churchill. Who received money for this crude example?
Criticisms of the book 'Churchill's Private Letters'
selected, edited, and published by his daughter Mary Soames.
May 1999. Important information.
Mr W S Churchill's improper appointment.
Re missing items at Chartwell.
The scandal of the Chartwell Papers.
Churchill family v College College Cambridge..
Re CHURCHILL HOUSE London.
The Greatest Briton
The Greatest Briton
Library of Congress USA.
The Churchill Exhibition
An Award for Stupidity
...'spitting in the face' of 'The Few'
Dishonesty at the Chartwell Gift Shop
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