Before Winston Churchill made history, he made news. To a great extent, the news made him too. If it was his own efforts that made him a hero, it was the media that made him a celebrity - and it has been considerably responsible for perpetuating his memory and shaping his reputation in the years since his death. Churchill first made his name via writing and journalism in the years before 1900, the money he earned helping to support his political career (at a time when MPs did not get salaries). Journalistic activities were also important to him later, as he struggled in the interwar years to find the wherewithal to run and maintain Chartwell, his country house in Kent. Moreover, not only was journalism an important aspect of Churchill's political persona, but he himself was a news-obsessive throughout his life. The story of Churchill and the news is, on one level, a tale of tight deadlines, off-the-record briefings and smoke-filled newsrooms, of wartime summits that were turned into stage-managed global media events, and of often tense interactions with journalists and powerful press proprietors, such as Lords Northcliffe, Rothermere, and Beaverbrook. Uncovering the symbiotic relationship between Churchill's political life and his media life, and the ways in which these were connected to his personal life, Richard Toye asks if there was a 'public Churchill' whose image was at odds with the behind-the-scenes reality, or whether, in fact, his private and public selves became seamlessly blended as he adjusted to living in the constant glare of the media spotlight.
On a wider level, this is also the story of a rapidly evolving media and news culture in the first half of the twentieth century, and of what the contemporary reporting of Churchill's life (including by himself) can tell us about the development of this culture, over a period spanning from the Victorian era through to the space age.
Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:
13 August 2020
Introduction 1: A Pushing Age 2: Stage Thunder 3: Any Home News? 4: Hell with the Lid Off 5: Born to Trouble 6: 'Worse than the Nazis' 7: 'The War is not Fought to Amuse the Newspapers' 8: Whose Finger? Conclusion
Richard Toye is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He previously worked at the University of Cambridge. He has written widely on modern British and international political and economic history. His critically acclaimed book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness won him the 2007 Times Higher Young Academic Author of the Year Award. He lives in Exeter with his wife and two sons.
Reviews for Winston Churchill: A Life in the News
Richard Toye once again brilliantly illuminates a critical side of Winston Churchill's complex life. This original, important, and highly-readable book is teeming with shrewd judgements and fresh insights. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Churchill's political career or modern news culture. * Christopher M. Bell, author of Churchill and the Dardanelles and Churchill and Sea Power * In Churchill: A Life in the News we encounter both the bombastic and the deeply insecure sides to Churchill's complex personality. The book stands not only as a testament to the effects of the media on personal leadership styles, but it forces us to reflect on how the changing media environment affects the way we are governed. It is a timely reminder of the excesses and limitations of the press in the modern political age. * Professor Jo Fox, Institute of Historical Research * [An] original study ... Toye is surely correct in seeing the journalism as central to the career of a man whose life was dominated by the news he did much to create. * A.W. Purdue, Times Higher Education *