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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874–1965), British statesman, soldier, and writer. The son of Lord Randolph Churchill and his U.S. wife, Jennie Jerome, he was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst. He fought in India (1897), the Sudan (1898), and South Africa. A Conservative member of Parliament (1900), he changed to the Liberal party in 1905 and became first lord of the admiralty by 1911, in which office he was held accountable for the failure of the Dardanelles campaign during World War I. Churchill left government and saw active service in France until he was recalled by Lloyd George to serve in several cabinet positions (1917–22). In 1924 he regained a seat in Parliament and was chancellor of the exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government (1924–29). Out of favor with his own party, he held no office for the next 10 years, during which time he voiced strong warnings regarding Hitler's activity in Germany. When World War II broke out (1939), Chamberlain appointed him first lord of the admiralty. Upon Hitler's invasion of the Low Countries, Churchill was made prime minister (1940) and minister of national defense. His persuasive oratory and unswerving confidence were instrumental assets in Allied resistance, as were his contributions to military strategy. He was coauthor, with President F.D. Roosevelt, of the Atlantic Charter, and played a key role in the diplomatic conferences that were to shape postwar Europe (e.g., Yalta Conference). In 1951 Churchill returned to power as prime minister for the second time, serving until his retirement from politics (1955). His extensive writings, for which he received the Nobel Prize (1953), include an autobiography, My Early Life (1930), The Second World War (6 vols., 1948–53), and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (4 vols., 1956–58).

See also: World War II.

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