Winston Churchill started to build his character from a very young age. This titan of politics of the 20th century has always excited the imagination of both countrymen and foreigners. People said that Churchill was fifty percent American, and one hundred percent British. A young Winston Churchill convinced himself that he was born to write history. And he succeeded in doing this. The photo of Winston Churchill is among the TOP 100 most influential pictures in history.
Churchill was the last of the aristocrat who ruled England. He was an extraordinary man, woven of contradictions – a romantic and a realist, a slave to ambition who did not change his principles. This adventurer recognized the merits of a compromise. Brilliant ideas swarmed in his head, but this did not prevent him from committing frivolous acts.
This publication continues Oldpics’ series of the early photographs of the great politicians of the 20th century. You can check noteworthy photos of young Joseph Stalin, rare images of Mao Zedong, and even pictures of Adolf Hitler during his WWI service.
The early years of Winston Churchill
Parents didn’t spend much time raising little Winston. As soon as the child was born, he was immediately given to the nurse, who took all the baby’s care. Winston was lucky. His nanny was a reliable woman of about forty named Elizabeth Everest. She had warm and tend feelings for the baby, and young Winston Churchill had a strong bond with his in-fact-parent. A portrait of a nurse hung in Churchill’s bedroom throughout his life. Neither father nor mother could devote much time to their son. Winston consistently lacked parental attention and warmth. This case left a deep imprint on his early childhood in London and Dublin, where from 1877 to 1880, Lord Randolph served as Viceroy and where his family lived with him. However, during his school years, young Winston missed parental attention too.
Winston was seven years old when his school life began. First, the boy attended the boarding house of St. George School, located in a wealthy mansion in Ascot. Unfortunately, the boarding school held a traditional pedagogical perspective. Teachers focused on endless memorization and corporal punishment. Unsurprisingly, Winston didn’t like his first school, as his characteristics were “undisciplined, immoderate and sloppy” students.
Finally, Lord Randolph decided to enroll his son in one of the most prestigious private schools in England, The Harrow. It competed with Eton. Winston spent there for over four years. At the end of the Harrow period, he turned eighteen, and continued to receive punishments and mediocre grades and never found a common language with his comrades. Teachers noted his “forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, eternal delays, systematic violation of discipline.” In their opinion, young Winston Churchill was possessing outstanding abilities and could become the best student in the class. While missing parental care and love, Winston Churchill was a rebellious, restless, and cocky young man.
Since childhood, Winston lived in luxury that symbolized the power of his family. But a kid did not feel protected at all.
The mental torment of young Winston Churchill
However, the following circumstance deserves more serious attention. Like his ancestor Marlborough and many great people, Young Winston Churchill suffered from bouts of deep depression throughout his life. From childhood to his last days, depression was a decisive factor in determining his actions. However, Churchill managed to hide his emotional state in most cases. In periods of depression, he felt sadness. A hopeless melancholy tormented him, and plunged into despair. Churchill was aware that he was responsive to mental pathology and even called her “black dog” because it always followed him in the dark days of failure.
Psychiatrist Anthony Storr carefully investigated Churchill’s case. Doc found that depression was a source of insatiable ambition and seething activity of the future prime minister. These psychological features in the development of Churchill’s character are not challenging to trace. The lack of a mother’s care and loneliness from early childhood damaged the child’s soul.
See more: Winston Churchill with a Tommy Gun, 1940
Young Winston Churchill desperately wanted to succeed by any means. It is necessary to make up for the lack of love and overcome the insecurity that plagued him. His exploits for those around him and himself served as a proof of extraordinary abilities and talents. In a word, only total recognition could convince this unsociable child of his importance. From now on, admiration and love for him were to be immeasurable, as the sufferings of a rejected child were endless.
Then Churchill’s deep, all-embracing egocentrism, which often took monstrous forms, becomes understandable. The unchanging thirst for success and fame becomes understandable, because only having won them, he could silence the doubts that were choking him about his significance.
A military start
At the age of fifteen, Winston started to think about his future and chose a career path. However, his father had decided everything for him long ago. In the Victorian era, the youngest child from an aristocratic family had only three options: military service, religion, law career. Neither religion nor law attracted Winston; therefore, an army career remained. This path was favorable for a young Winston Churchill who dreamed of glorious achievements and adventures.
Winston passed his final exams at Sandhurst Military Academy and was promoted to lieutenant on February 20, 1895. He joined one of the most brilliant regiments of the English army – the corps of Her Majesty’s Hussars (the Queen’s 4th hussar regiment).
The decisive year
Meanwhile, 1895 was a turning point in Churchill’s life. He said goodbye to youth and entered adulthood. In the same year, Winston suffered two bereavements that deeply affected him. His father, Lord Randolph, died in January. His death shocked young Winston Churchill; he could not recover from this blow for a long time. Although, to some extent, his tyrant father’s end freed him from imperious, oppressive tutelage. Winston suddenly elevated the adoration of his father to the level of a cult. A few years later, he admired his memory and dedicated a detailed biography to him, written talent entirely. “I endlessly loved and admired my father, and after his untimely death, I honored his memory (…) I knew by heart long passages from his speeches. Of course, my political priorities were formed under the influence of my father”. Churchill later recalled that his father and American President Theodore Roosevelt were to persons who shaped his style as a politician.
Another death left an indelible mark on Winston’s heart. His nanny, Mrs. Everest, died in July of peritoneal inflammation. The poor woman fell into poverty when, two years earlier, the Churchill family unceremoniously refused her services.
The death of loved ones, the beginning of a military career – childhood is gone forever. Churchill stepped into the new stage of his life with his usual swiftness, thirst for action, and energy cult. In his autobiography, he mentioned this year: not to waste a second; immediately and decisively take a position on the battlefield, which name is life; not be content with what you have; never accept defeat, because “the world exists to be conquered.”