The eight-volume biography of Winston S. Churchill, begun by his son, Randolph Churchill, and completed by Martin Gilbert following Randolph’s death in 1968, was based on documents from the Churchill papers and from more than one thousand other archives, both public and private. Among the many archival jewels are Churchill’s most private and personal letters from his early childhood to his old age, uncensored family correspondence, the letters and diaries of his closest friends and fiercest opponents, secret diplomatic telegrams, and the daily exchanges of an active politician, a prolific writer, a vivid journalist, an historian, a painter, and a man of action.
Churchill’s personal papers are among the most comprehensive ever assembled relating to the life and times of one man. They are so extensive that it was only possible to include in the narrative volumes a part of the relevant documents. The volumes titled The Churchill Documents were planned to run parallel with the narrative volumes, and with them to form a whole.
Here in the first two volumes of The Churchill Documents—Volume 1: Youth, 1874–1896 and Volume 2: Young Soldier,1896–1901—are set out all the documents relevant to the first volume of the biography, Winston S. Churchill: Youth,1874–1900. When an extract or quotation appears in the narrative volume, the complete document appears here. Where space prevented the inclusion of a contemporary letter in the narrative volume, it is included here.
Winston Churchill saw active service in three theatres of war between 1897 and 1901: India, Sudan, and South Africa. These were among the most intense years of his life: several times in danger of death in the firing lines; being taken prisoner of war and escaping from captivity; reporting as a journalist from the scenes of the fiercest fighting; and making every effort to enter Parliament and enter British political life. During these five years he published five books, wrote many newspaper and magazine articles, lectured in Britain and the United States, and was elected to the House of Commons.