Spring 1897 (Age 22)

Churchill looking for ‘Action’

May marked the end of Churchill’s almot superhuman effort to educate himself by reading yards of classic literature and studying the Annual Register for all years since his birth. Now his search for fame and action demanding his return from India. Though Lady Randolph resisted this on grounds of cost, and feared he would get a reputation for not sticking to anything, Churchill wanted action.

The Greeks and Turks were at war in Crete, where he asked his mother to get him a correspondency. On May 8th he sailed on the Ganges but the war in Crete was over before they reached Port Said. So Churchill visited Naples, climbed Vesuvius, “did” Pompeii and Rome, and visited his brother in Paris before returning to England. Aboard ship he made friends with a Colonel, Ian Hamilton, who was to affect his life greatly in later years.

He and his mother worked to advance his political prospects while in London as seen in this letter from the Conservative Central Office to a local Conservative association: “Will you allow the late Lord Randolph Churchill’s son, Mr. Winston S. Churchill, also to speak at your gathering on [July] 26th? He is very keen about politics and about the Primrose League and has told us he would like to address a few political meetings before rejoining his regiment, the 4th Hussars, shortly in India. We have no doubt you would be rather glad to have him at your meeting; he is a clever young man and his presence would no doubt be of some interest to the Bath Conservatives.” The result was Churchill’s maiden political speech.

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