Lough (No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money, 2015) has collected all available correspondence between Winston and his mother, Jennie Churchill, from his childhood until the end of her life.
With excellent explanations of the events involved, the author gives readers first-rate insight into the personalities of mother and son. “I estimate at least three-quarters of their letters survive,” writes Lough in his context-filled introduction. “Although many have found their way individually into biographies of either mother or son, they have never before appeared as an uninterrupted correspondence between the two.” Winston’s early studies were dismal; he failed his first two attempts to gain entry into the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, before he started in 1893. Many of his letters to his mother complained of lack of money and not enough letters or visits. The impression from his early years is of a tedious, whining boy looking to his mother to fix everything—which she usually did. Money was seemingly always a problem, and mother and son were similar in many ways. Both were selfish, short-tempered, and extravagant, and both talked too freely and always felt entitled to the best. Once Winston got his posting to India, he realized how little knowledge he had of the liberal arts. Amid catching butterflies and playing polo, he spent his time studying the works of Thomas Macaulay and Edward Gibbon. He discovered early his aptitude for writing and found a clear love of politics. His mother’s contacts would clear the way for both endeavors. His ego shows in many of his letters—e.g., he told his mother that during battle, bullets were not worth considering because the gods would not create so potent a being for so prosaic an ending. The author includes the available letters with very few gaps, notably after she married a man Winston’s age and during his Boer War escapades. Throughout, he always relied on her help furthering his writing and political careers.
A great resource for gaining a further understanding of these two outsized characters and their era.