Even though he’s more famous for his exemplary statesmanship and leadership during the darkest days of World War II – did you also know that Winston Churchill is, so far, the only incumbent head-of-state who was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize?
By: Ringo Bones
To most of us, Winston Churchill is better known for his exemplary statesmanship that not only prevented the whole of the U.K. from falling into the clutches of Adolf Hitler’s NAZIs during World War II, but also for his leadership that eventually made freedom and the rule of law reign again across Europe that resulted in an Allied victory during the Second World War. But did you also know that Winston Churchill is, so far, the only incumbent head-of-state that won the Nobel Literature Prize?
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, English statesman and writer was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England on November 30, 1874, the son of Lord Randolph Churchill and his American wife, Jennie, Jerome. Educated at Harrow at Sandhurst, Winston Churchill entered the British Army as a subaltern in the Fourth Hussars in 1895. Soon afterwards while on leave, he participated in the Spanish campaign against Cuban insurrectionists as a correspondent; then, after a peaceful term of garrison life in the south of India, he attached himself, again as a correspondent, to a British force operating on the Northwest Frontier.
Returning to England in 1897, Churchill wanted to go to go to the Balkans where hostilities were under way, but instead made his way to Egypt and joined a Lancers regiment in Lord Kitchener’s army. Though Kitchener disliked Churchill because of his practice of combining journalism with soldiering, the young officer was not dismayed. He took a distinguished part in a famous cavalry charge at Omdurman and at the close of field operations resigned from the army to devote himself to politics, making an unsuccessful attempt to enter Parliament.
Even though the Dardanelles Campaign / Gallipoli Campaign eventually became his “Waterloo” during his stint as the First Lord of the Admiralty in the British Royal Navy, Winston Churchill nonetheless became the Conservative Prime Minister of U.K. after defeating then U.K. PM Neville Chamberlain. Though the Dunkirk evacuation of May 27 to June 4, 1940 – code-named Operation Dynamo – seems like the “darkest hour” of World War II, Britain stood by Winston Churchill in lieu of his blood, toil, sweat and tears speech.
Even though the July 10 to October 31, 1940 Battle of Britain became Britain’s “Finest Hour” of World War II after the 3 months and 3 weeks long battle for air superiority of the British airspace resulted in a decisive British victory, the “Battle of Britain” has an unusual distinction in that it gained its name prior to being fought. The name is derived from a famous speech delivered by the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons more than three weeks prior to the generally accepted date for the start of the battle. Nevertheless, the decisive victory of the Battle of Britain eventually bolstered the statesmanship of Winston Churchill that led to the success of the D-Day landings in June 6, 1944, 4 years and 2 days after the last day of the Dunkirk evacuation.
By July 1945, the British people elected a majority of Labour Party members to the House of Commons and Clement Attlee became Prime Minister. After his defeat in the polls, Churchill resumed his position as a leader of the opposition. He visited the United States in 1946 and in a speech at Fulton, Missouri, gave wide currency to the term “Iron Curtain” as describing the wall of secrecy behind which the then Soviet government operated.
With a narrow Conservative Party victory in the general elections of October 1951, Winston Churchill once more became Prime Minister. Not only was Churchill knighted by Queen Elizabeth II back in 1953, Churchill was also awarded the Nobel Literature Prize on that year on his “historical and biographical description and brilliant oratory, making him the only incumbent head-of-state so far that was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In April 1955, after more than 50 years of a distinguished political career, Sir Winston Churchill tendered to the queen his resignation as Prime Minister. He died in London on January 24, 1964. Following a state funeral service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, he was buried near Blenheim Palace.