National Geographic : 1965 Aug
(( HIS INTERLUDE of school Makes a sombre grey patch up on the chart of my journey... an unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty..." wrote Churchill (at top of picture with Harrow schoolmates and a master in 1892). His teachers thought him at once precocious and backward, reading books beyond his years, yet stubbornly refusing to absorb subjects that did not interest him. A broad-minded headmaster at Harrow overlooked a blank Latin examination and admitted the in corrigible 131/2-year-old. Placed in the lowest form, where "we were considered such dunces that we could learn only English," Sir Winston mastered the lan guage. But he himself remembered, "Except in Fencing...I had achieved no distinction .... It is not pleasant to feel oneself so com pletely outclassed and left behind at the very beginning of the race." The race continues: A present-day Harrow scholar in straw boater runs to class (opposite). On his third attempt Churchill qualified for a cavalry cadetship at Sandhurst. Military science ap pealed to him, and he graduated eighth in a class of 150. Thereafter, "I searched the world for some scene of adventure or excitement." PRINT AT HARROWSCHOOL; EKTACHROME(OPPOSITE) BY BATESLITTLEHALES( N.G.S . while campaigning for his seat. An event of the first social magnitude, their wedding at tracted some 800 guests. King Edward VII sent a gift. And the bridegroom, in his own words, "lived happily ever afterwards." By that time Winston Churchill had gained a world-wide reputation as author, lecturer, soldier, journalist, and politician. He had been born into one of England's foremost families, rather unexpectedly to be sure, dur ing a ball on November 30, 1874, at Blenheim Palace. His American mother, the former Jennie Jerome, had hurried from the dance floor to a nearby cloakroom to give birth to a tiny premature boy. Young Winston Leonard Spencer Church ill grew up amid the trappings of wealth and empire. His father and mother moved among great captains and great statesmen. The boy paid frequent visits to Blenheim Palace, home of his grandfather, seventh Duke of Marl borough. Queen Anne had presented the 164 estate to Churchill's ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, in gratitude for victories over the French armies of Louis XIV in the War of the Spanish Succession. There the lit tle boy played with tin soldiers among repli cas of banners that flew at the battles of Ra millies in Belgium and Malplaquet in France. Despite his golden background, Winston's future did not appear promising. His dancing teacher called him "the naughtiest small boy in the world." At St. James's School, and later at Harrow, he was a scholastic failure. Mathematics mystified him; classics bored him. Of his four and a half years at Harrow, he wrote, "By being so long in the lowest form I gained an immense advantage over the clev erer boys. They all went on to learn Latin and Greek and splendid things like that. But I was taught English.... I learned it thor oughly. Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence which is a noble thing."