Rare family photographs of a youthful Winston Churchill have come to light in a family album that will be sold at Bonham’s auctioneers later this month.
The remarkable pictures reveal him in his late teens and as an
assured young man making his way in the world around the turn of the century besides images from earlier years of the boy with his mother Jennie Churchill and younger brother Jack.
The album, which is previously unseen, has been put up for sale by an anonymous titled donor, and will go under the hammer in London on November 22nd.
What is revealed is a child with character, poise and a strong sense of his own place in the world. In one picture, taken on the steps of his Aunt Cornelia’s home in Canford Magna, Dorset when he was 18 in 1892, the young Winston strikes a confident and assertive pose that instantly reminds the viewer of the later wartime leader, full of calm authority.
Shortly after this picture (above right) was taken Churchill fell 29ft from a bridge while trying to hide from his brother and nearly died. He ruptured a kidney and lay in a coma for three days while his parents summoned the finest doctors from London. The strength of his constitution, which would serve him in later life, pulled him through and he went on to Sandhurst Military Academy and then to work as a reporter in South Africa during the Boer War.
In one charming and relaxed portrait the camera captures a close and affectionate bond between Lady Churchill and her two young boys as they lean on their mother, an American socialite from New York.
Other photographs depict Sir Winston at different stages of his career; firstly in South Africa, then after he had abandoned his military career for politics upon winning the Oldham seat at the general election in 1900, and also as First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I.
What they reveal above all is a sense of the consistent character of the man who would defy Hitler and make Britain a bastion in the fight against Fascism in Europe. The firm set of the jaw, the confident and determined look in the eye – all the elements that have gone to make up the myth of Churchill the great wartime leader are there to be seen in the younger man.
This extraordinary collection of 150 photographs is expected to fetch around £3,000. A spokesman for Bonhams said: ‘Churchill is such an iconic figure that anything new about him always causes great excitement.
‘In one of these photographs the young Churchill is striking the kind of confident pose that many years later would become familiar to millions of people round the world. And it is not too fanciful to see in these very relaxed early family images the inspirational leader he was to become.’
You can find out more about what made this young man the finest politician and leader of his generation at the shop, where you will find the superb Martin Gilbert biography in both UK and US editions and works on his formative time in the army during the 1890s. His career as a junior officer in the Lancers is captured as a magnificent print to adorn any wall.