Winston Churchill is probably one of the most famous British figures in modern history. He served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 until 1945 and then again from 1951 until 1955. He served in Parliament for over 60 years, representing 5 constituencies and holding 12 different political offices in that time. You may think that you are familiar with Churchill and what he did in his life, but how much do you really know about him? In this article, we are going to look at 10 interesting facts that you may not know about the former British Prime Minister.
1. Winston Churchill was a distant relative of 1st US President George Washington
Yes, it’s true, one of Britain’s most famous and iconic political figures was actually half American! Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lived there until 1867 when, at the age of 13, she moved to Paris, France with her mother and two sisters. Jennie met Lord Randolph Churchill, in Paris in 1873, getting married at the British Embassy there on 15 April 1874, and had Winston in November of the same year. Winston Churchill’s great-great-grandmother was Betsy Ball, who was a relative of George Washington, through his mother Mary Ball. This in turn makes Winston Churchill a distant relative of the First President of the United States.
2. The first known use of the abbreviation “OMG” was sent to Winston Churchill.
While the abbreviation “OMG” (meaning Oh My God) was popularized in the 1990s and early 2000s through online and text communication, the first known use of the term was actually in a letter to Winston Churchill during the First World War. On the 9th of September 1917, British Admiral, Lord John Fisher wrote “O.M.G (Oh! My! God!)” in his letter to Churchill about some newspaper headlines that had “utterly upset” him.
3. Churchill spent time in a Prisoner of War camp.
In 1899, Winston Churchill was working as a war correspondent for the newspaper The Morning Star covering the Anglo-Boer War taking place in South Africa. On the 15th of November 1899, the train Churchill was riding on was ambushed by Boers and was captured and then imprisoned in a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Pretoria. In December of the same month, Winston Churchill managed with the assistance of an English mine manager by hiding in a mine and in freight trains until he reached Mozambique. The story of his escape received national attention and he published a book, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, in 1900 of his time in South Africa.
4. Winston Churchill was a Nobel Prize winner.
Most people know Winston Churchill only as a politician with many not aware that he was a very successful writer. He produced mostly non-fiction works but did also write a fiction novel called Savrola. In 1953, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”
5. Churchill’s last words were “I’m bored with it all”.
Winston Churchill’s final spoken words were reportedly said to his son-in-law, Christopher Soames, when he was offered champagne. He said “I’m bored with it all”. this shortly before he fell into a coma in the middle of January 1965. Churchill had 8 strokes throughout his life, with the final one occurring on 15 January 1965. He died at the age of 90 on the 24th of the same month.
6. Winston Churchill produced over 500 paintings throughout his life.
Along with his careers as a politician and writer, he also spent much of his free time painting. He first began painting at the age of 40 in 1915 when he was not as active in politics; he represented the constituency of Dundee but held no ministerial office. Throughout his life, he went on to complete over 500 paintings, with his final known piece, The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell, completed in 1962. Nowadays, his paintings are selling for millions.
7. Churchill proposed four times to different women before getting married.
During his youth, Winston Churchill had proposed three times to different women and had been turned down each time, before proposing to Clementine Hozier, whom he married in 1908. He first proposed to Pamela Plowden, the daughter of a British colonial officer, in 1900. He then proposed to both American actress Ethel Barrymore, and heiress Muriel Wilson in 1904.
8. 14 people were Prime Minister during his political career.
Including himself, there were 14 Prime Ministers during the 60-year political career of Sir Winston Churchill. The first Prime Minister of his career was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who served from 1895 until 1902, and the final Prime Minister of his political career was Alec Douglas-Home who served from 1963 until 1964. The role of Prime Minister switched 18 times between the 14 people during this time (with Churchill holding the position on two occasions).
9. Winston Churchill was in a car accident which put him in hospital.
On December 13, 1931, in New York City, Winston Churchill was hit by a car while trying to cross a busy street. Churchill accepted blame for the accident as he was looking in the wrong direction, forgetting that oncoming traffic is on the right in the United States (traffic keeps to the left in the United Kingdom). He was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital with injuries that included a scalp wound and multiple cracked ribs. He met with the man that hit him and gave him a signed copy of his autobiography.
10. Winston Churchill was over 80 years old when he resigned as Prime Minister.
When Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on April 5, 1955, he was 80 years and 126 days old. This makes him the second oldest Prime Minister in British history, only beaten by William Ewart Gladstone who was 84 years and 63 days old when he resigned from the post.