Autumn 1888 (Age 14)

At Harrow, Winston was showing the advantages of his prodigious memory and his love for history and literature. He entered a competition with boys older than he (some were 17) which required him to “learn and work up the notes in Merchant of Venice, Henry VIII and Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He finished fourth out of 25.

He wrote his mother about a lecture on the phonograph by Col Gouraud, a tall Yankee who had met his father: “It was very amusing he astonished all sober-minded People by singing into the Phonograph: ‘John Brown’s Body lies Mouldy in the grave, And his soul goes marching on, Glory, glory, glory Halleluja.’ And the Phonograph spoke it back in a voice that was clearly audible in the Speech Room.” [WSC’s spelling apparently still left a lot to be desired.]

He continued to be positive about his work. “I feel ‘working trim’ and expect many rises in my position.”
His mother visited him this term, and that was always an occasion of great happiness for Winston. He promised her that he would “be specially got up for the occasion. Nails, teeth, clothes, hair, boots, and person well brushed.”

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