Huge Churchill archive to go online

Sir Winston Churchill's vast written archive is to be put online. The publisher Bloomsbury is to digitise 1 million documents, held in 2,500 boxes in purpose-built vaults at Churchill College in Cambridge, by 2012.

They range from the notes Sir Winston used in the House of Commons when delivering his "Finest Hour" speech on 18 June 1940 to private letters to noted figures such as George Bernard Shaw, Lawrence of Arabia and Vivien Leigh.

Allen Packwood, director of the Churchill Archives Centre, said that the reader could see how Sir Winston had worked a speech from its earliest draft. "We've got his annotations, changes and final script notes," he said. "You can see the process of him developing these great speeches."

The archives also include Sir Winston's speech of 5 March 1946, where he coined the expression "Iron Curtain", and the correspondence he was receiving during the course of the Second World War.

The collection also includes personal correspondence such as letters to his wife, Clemmie, and the manuscript of Savrola, a novel which Sir Winston wrote at the age of 23.