Churchill biography may not be completed

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For more than 20 years William Manchester has devoted almost all his energy chronicling the life and times of Winston Churchill.

The first two volumes of his bestselling biography total 1,729 pages and together have sold more than 400,000 copies in hardback. But 100,000 words and 279 pages into the third and final volume Mr Manchester, 79, is at a debilitating halt. Since suffering two strokes after the death of his wife three years ago, he has been unable to work on the book. Now he doubts it will ever be completed.

"Language came as easily as breathing for 50 years and I cannot do it anymore," he said. "The feeling is indescribable." The struggle of Mr Manchester against his decline so close to sealing a lifetime of literary achievement is one of the publishing world's more moving stories. At his peak, he would work for days without sleep.

But such is the interest in the final volume of the biography that the New York publisher Little Brown has suggested he work with another writer. Mr Manchester does not believe it would work. "What I can't get people to understand is that nobody else can write it. Nobody has my style. Nobody could put it in context like I can. I am the only person who can write that book."