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.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 2 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 3 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 4 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
- 5 Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros
Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
Cilla Black: Her 12 best songs, from 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' to 'You're My World'
Zoolander 2 trailer leaks online and it's really, really, ridiculously good looking
Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros
Humans actress Gemma Chan on Hollywood sexism: 'You're more likely to see an alien than an Asian woman'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison