The Churchills, By Mary S Lovell
The truth is in the tittle-tattle
Sunday 15 April 2012
Any history of the Churchills will be dominated by its most famous son and his achievements, but Mary S Lovell does a superb job of shining a light on other members of this aristocratic and political family – especially the women, from bold, ambitious Sarah Churchill, the power behind the throne of Queen Anne, onwards.
The women are an excellent choice for Lovell's focus. American heiress Jennie Jerome married Lord Randolph Churchill in 1874 – their son and eldest child, Winston, was born just over seven months later. "Was Jennie pregnant before they married?" Lovell asks, unapologetic about gossip. ("In my experience the world has always thrived on gossip and [it] can have a place even in serious biography," she maintains in her preface.) And there's plenty to gossip about. Pre-existing biographies of Sarah and Jennie mean Lovell has little new to offer here, but she highlights lesser-known women such as the two unhappy wives of Winston's uncle, Charles, Consuelo Vanderbilt and Gladys Deacon.
The Churchills' marriage doesn't escape scrutiny, and Lovell records Clementine Churchill's hospitalisation and electrotherapy after a breakdown in 1963, while attesting to their enduring love for one another. The many marriages, the scandals, the lovers and the tragedies only make this extraordinary family seem more real and more human to us. Gossip, in this case, does them a service.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict