Why is Churchill famous?
Britain's war leader
Winston Churchill was Britain's prime minister for most of World War II. He was famous for his speeches, and for his refusal to give in, even when things were going badly. For a time he was the most famous person in Britain. People all over the world know the name Winston Churchill.
When did he live?
Churchill was born in 1874. He lived through two world wars. He saw the first cars, the first planes, and the first astronauts in space. He was at the crowning of Elizabeth II as Queen in 1953. He was an MP for over 60 years. Winston Churchill died in 1965.
What was special about Churchill?
People remember Churchill as a war leader. But he did other important jobs in a long life full of adventures. Winston Churchill loved history and in his life he made history.
Where was Churchill born?
Winston was born on 30 November 1874, in Blenheim Palace near Oxford.
Blenheim is a great house built in the 1700s for John Churchill. He was Duke of Marlborough and a famous soldier. He was Winston's ancestor. Winston's mother was visiting Blenheim when her baby was born.
Winston and brother Jack
The baby was named Winston Spencer Churchill. His mother was Jennie Jerome, an American. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill, an important person in the government at the time.
Winston had a younger brother, Jack. A nurse looked after the boys. Their mother and father were often busy and away from home.
Sent to school
At 7, Winston was sent away to school. He hated it. He was beaten (hit) by his teacher, and never got enough to eat.
He liked his next school. It was by the sea. He learned to swim and ride horses.
A royal celebration
Winston enjoyed a visit to London in 1887. Crowds waved flags and bands played. It was Queen Victoria's Jubilee, to mark 50 years as Queen.
Then came exams... Winston was so puzzled by one exam paper, he wrote his name - and nothing else!
Good at lessons?
But he passed the exams! In 1888, he went to Harrow School, a famous public school.
Winston liked reading. He liked history and learning poems by heart. But his writing was bad, he was often late for class, and he lost his books.
Winston was good at fencing. He wrote letters home asking for pocket money, jam and cake.
Wars and adventures
Winston joins the Army
In 1893, Winston went to the Army college at Sandhurst. He wanted to be a soldier in the cavalry.
1895 was a sad year. His father died. So did his nurse.
Winston went to America and Cuba. He started writing for newspapers about his adventures.
In 1896 Churchill was sent to India, which was then part of the British Empire.
In South Africa
Next, he went as a newspaper reporter to South Africa. There, the British Army was fighting the Boers.
Winston was captured by the Boers, but escaped. He climbed out of a window, then hid on a train.
He came home a hero. In 1900, he was elected as an MP.
In 1908, Winston married Clementine Hozier.
Winston runs the Navy
Soon Winston was in the government.
From 1914 to 1939
In 1914, World War I began. Churchill wanted the Navy to win battles. But in 1915 his plan for an attack on Turkey went badly wrong. Many British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers died. Churchill resigned. He went to fight in France as a soldier.
By 1917 he was back in the government. He was in charge of new weapons. He was excited by the new tanks. Tanks helped win the war by 1918.
In the 1920s Churchill bought Chartwell, a house in Kent. He and his wife had five children. He wrote books to earn extra money.
The 1930s and Hitler
In the 1930s, Churchill said Britain must get ready for a new war. Germany's leader Adolf Hitler was a danger to peace. But he was not in the government, so people took little notice of his warnings.
In 1939, Germany attacked Poland. Britain and France went to war with Germany. World War II began.
Churchill was put in charge of the Navy again. But the war went badly. By 1940, France was beaten. Britain faced invasion.
Britain needed a new leader. In May 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.
Britain at war
Britain still had friends. The British Empire sent help. People from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand left home to fight alongside Britain.
Churchill used radio to tell the world Britain was not beaten. His speeches helped keep up people's spirits.
'We shall never surrender' he told Parliament.
Keeping up spirits
Churchill led Britain through the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. He walked through towns damaged by bombs. He met pilots, sailors and soldiers. He visited factories. Everywhere he went he gave the 'V for Victory' sign.
The Big Three
From 1941, America was in the war. So was Russia. Britain, America and Russia were now Allies.
Churchill became a friend of America's President Roosevelt. He met Russia's leader, Josef Stalin. The three leaders were called 'the Big Three'.
The war ends
On D-Day (6 June) 1944, the Allies landed armies in France. Churchill wanted to go too, but had to wait until it was safer.
The war in Europe ended in May 1945. Crowds cheered Churchill. He stood with the King and Queen.
Britain had an election. The Conservative Party lost. The Labour Party won. Churchill (a Conservative) gave up being Prime Minister.
By August 1945 World War II was over. What would Churchill do next?
Churchill's last years
Back in power
Churchill kept busy. He wrote books and made speeches. He was still leader of the Conservatives, and they won the 1951 election. Churchill went back to 10 Downing Street as prime minister. He was 76.
In 1953, Elizabeth II was crowned Queen. Churchill became Sir Winston Churchill. He was given the Nobel Prize for Literature, for his history books.
In 1955, he gave up being prime minister. But he was an MP until 1964. Though old and often not well, he still enjoyed painting pictures.
Churchill died on 24 January 1965. Many world leaders came to his state funeral. Crowds lined the streets.
Many famous British people are buried in Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral. But Churchill's grave is in a country churchyard near Oxford.
A famous name
In Westminster Abbey in London, visitors see a simple stone slab. On the stone are the words: 'Remember Winston Churchill'.