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 Updated Tuesday, May 25, 2004
London, Sunday, February 22, 1998


Charles Eade, editor of the Sunday Dispatch, kept a record of his meetings with Winston Churchill during and after the war. In this second extract from his diary, he reveals how Churchill was preoccupied with making money -- and avoiding tax


August 31, 1945

I visited Mr Winston Churchill on Friday, August 31, 1945, at the flat of his son-in-law, Mr Duncan Sandys, 67 Westminster Gardens, Marsham Street, SW.

This was my first meeting with Mr Churchill since the Election, and we spent an hour together, drinking whisky and soda and talking without interruption.

He appeared to be in high spirits and certainly showed no signs of the shock the Election had given him. Nevertheless, he quite frankly admitted that the result had staggered him completely and asked me whether I had had any idea beforehand what was going to happen.

I said I had not and I did not think that any intelligent forecaster had anticipated the rejection of the National Government. He said to me:

"Some people tell me that it is a blessing in disguise. But all I can say is that it is extremely well disguised."

He told me that there were many among the British people who, by now, were sorry about the way they had thrown him out. He feared that this feeling would, in time, develop into hatred of himself, and when I said that I thought that was quite out of the question, he said: "Well, you know how it is when a little child is nearly run over by a motorcar in the street and the mother rushes out to save the child from death and then spanks it for having given her a fright."

He told me that he had received an offer of £250,000 from America to write the story of the war, but that his present idea was that it should not be sold and published until some 10 years after his death. He explained that he would quite like to have £250,000, but he said with a laugh: "In fact, I should get only 250,000 sixpences."

He also said: "I agree with Dr Johnson that only a block-head writes except for money."


December 20, 1945

I lunched with Mr and Mrs Churchill at their new home, 28, Hyde Park Gate, on Thursday December 20, 1945. The only other person present at the lunch was Mrs Hill, Mr Churchill's personal private secretary.

During the usual trivial chit-chat with which Mrs Churchill always enlivens the early stages of a luncheon party, she surprised me by saying that during her husband's Premiership, many people had addressed her as Mrs Chamberlain, and it still happened occasionally.

When Mrs Churchill left us after lunch, Mr Churchill went into a serious conversation with me regarding the publication of his speeches made in Secret Session in the House of Commons during the War, he explained that he had sold the American rights of the "notes" of these speeches to Life for approximately £15,000, and this sum was regarded as the sale of capital assets and was not taxable as income.

He felt, however, that it would be unwise to sell the rights of the speeches to any single British newspaper, and proposed to release them for general publication at weekly intervals five days after Life had used each instalment. He asked my view about this, and I agreed it was probably wise but emphasised that, in any case, the speeches must surely be published in book form and they would have a considerable sale.

He then ordered the speeches to be brought to him and proceeded to read at the table the full speech he made to the House of Commons in Secret Session in 1940 when the blitz on London was just beginning.

Mr Churchill asked my opinion as to the cash value the Secret Session speech as a volume. I said that I understood the others had provided him with £3,000 each. He said that the last one had brought in £3,500. I therefore told him that I thought the Secret Sessions would a much bigger sale and ought to be worth £5,000. He agreed.


January 25, 1946

On Friday, January 25, 1946 Mr Churchill telephoned again from Miami to ask me what was the reaction in London to the publishing in America of the first of his Secret Session speeches.

I read extracts from the London newspaper reports from New York, and he asked me whether I thought there would be any criticism because the speeches were published first in America.

I told him I thought this was possible. I read a story from the Daily Mail which dealt with the point and which stated that perhaps there had been some misunderstanding, as although Life was published on January 25, it was dated January 28, which corresponded with the date of publication for the speeches in London.

Mr Churchill said he thought that was very helpful. He still seemed a little uneasy about the British reaction and said he would phone again the following day.

Mr Churchill phoned again on Saturday, January 26 and again on Sunday, January 27, and I reassured him on both occasions that, so far, there was no complaint in the papers about the pre-release to America. The speech was published extensively in the morning papers on Monday, January 28, and he phoned me in the afternoon to hear how the press had treated it. He was disappointed to hear that The Times had given only one column to it, but seemed more cheerful when I read him an extract from The Times leader, which expressed great appreciation of him and the speech.

On Tuesday afternoon, January 29, I saw Mr Martin of the Press Association and together we drew up a statement relating to the third speech which is being released first to the British press and not being used in Life.

Mr Churchill phoned again on Wednesday, January 30 to ask for fuller details about the criticism in the News Chronicle and the Star, and also to inquire whether there had been any questions in the House of Commons.

I told him that there was nothing to report, except that The Times had published a message from their correspondent at Canberra and quoted the Melbourne Age as saying that these speeches should not have been given first to America.

On Thursday, January 31, Mr Churchill telephoned me at my home at 8.30 to inquire whether there was any further development. I told him that the national newspapers had made no further references to the question and so far no MP had put down a question in the House.

The trade papers Newspaper World and World's Press News had, however, had long articles about the prepublication in Life, but the World's Press News had pointed out that on the authority "of a Parliamentary journalist of long experience", he was acting perfectly within his rights in selling the speeches first to America.

Mr Churchill did not seem to be very much concerned about the trade press attitude, and appeared a little relieved that no Parliamentary question had been put forward.

On Monday, February 11, 1946, Mr Winston Churchill telephoned me from Washington to ask how the morning papers had treated his third speech. I told him that they had not given a great deal of prominence to it. He said: "Well, we cannot expect very much in these four-page papers."


March 16, 1954

I met Sir Winston Churchill in his room at the House of Commons at 3.30 pm on Tuesday, March 16, 1954.

We talked about his work on the book The History of the English Speaking Peoples. He told me that he had finished the writing of the work before the outbreak of the war in 1939, and he had actually written 800,000 words in 14 months. He had had an agreement with Cassell's for £20,000 to be paid for this work and had had an advance of £5,000. Sir Newman Flower had insisted on early delivery of the first volume. However, plans were altered by the outbreak of war.

The work would be in four volumes. The first would deal from the dawn of time to the Roman occupation of Britain; the second volume would deal with the Tudor period; the third with the Stuarts and the fourth would carry the story up to the end of the 19th century.

Sir Winston said he was very pleased with the first volume and did not think it would require any further alterations. He was also quite happy about the third, but intended to do a great many revisions on the Tudor period. While discussing this historical work, he said: "Do you realise that from the time the Romans left Britain, until the arrival of the American heiresses, this country was completely without central heating?"

We referred to the time when Sir Emsley Carr, editor of the News of the World, had given permission for me to approach Churchill and ask him to allow me to reprint his old articles in the Sunday Dispatch. Churchill referred to the fact that these articles had meant a lot to him financially - about £12,000 - and how he had endeavoured to avoid paying income tax on them on the grounds that he was "retired from authorship".

As, however, he was First Lord of the Treasury, he could not make a decision in his own favour and therefore the matter had been referred to the Courts, with himself as an un-named "retired author".

I gathered that the decision had gone in his favour.

He talked about the money he had received from his books, and pointed out that he was now paying 19/6d in the £ in income tax. Nevertheless, he agreed that it was nice to have something in a permanent form, like a book.


... on this website:

Our website dossier on Churchill
Wall Street Journal's opinion on this article (and Mr Irving) | Abe Foxman (ADL) is outraged
David Irving: "Churchill's War", free download
Website note: Churchill's monthly desk calendars for the war years September 1939-1945 are available as a service to historians on CD Rom in pdf format for $50 from Focal Point Publications
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