Winston Churchill (November 10, 1871 - March 12, 1947) was an American novelist.
Churchill was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Edward Spalding and Emma Bell (Blaine) Churchill. He attended Smith Academy in Missouri and the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1894. At the Naval Academy, he was conspicuous alike in scholarship and in general student activities. He became an expert fencer and he organized at Annapolis the first eight-oared crew, of which he was for two years captain. After his graduation, he became an editor of the Army and Navy Journal. He resigned from the navy to pursue a writing career. In 1895, he became managing editor of the Cosmopolitan Magazine, but in less than a year he retired that he might have more time for writing. While he would be most successful as a novelist, he was also a published poet and essayist.
Read The Complete Works of Winston Churchill, free from Project Gutenberg. His first novel was The Celebrity (1898). (Mr. Keegan's Elopement was published in 1896 within a magazine. In 1903 it was republished as an illustrated hardback book.) Churchill's next novel—Richard Carvel (1899)—was a phenomenon, selling as many as two million copies in a nation of only 76 million, and made Churchill rich. His next two novels, The Crisis (1901) and The Crossing (1904), were also very successful.
Churchill's early novels were historical but his later works were set in contemporary America. He often sought to include his political ideas into his novels. Churchill wrote in the naturalist style of literature, and some have called him the most influential of the American naturalists.
In 1898, a mansion designed by Charles Platt was built for him in Cornish, New Hampshire. In 1899, Churchill moved there and named it Harlakenden House. He became involved in the Cornish Art Colony, and in politics, and was elected to the state legislature in 1903 and 1905. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 1906. In 1912, he was nominated as the Progressive candidate for governor but did not win the election. He did not again seek office. In 1917, he toured the battlefields of World War I and wrote about what he saw, his first non-fiction work.
Sometime after this move, he took up watercolors, and also became known for his landscapes. Some of his works are in the collections of the Hood Museum of Art (part of Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College) in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.
In 1919, Churchill decided to stop writing and withdrew from public life. As a result of this he was gradually forgotten by the public. In 1940, The Uncharted Way, his first book in 20 years, was published. The book examined Churchill's thoughts on religion. He did not seek to publicize the book and it received little attention. Shortly before his death he said, "It is very difficult now for me to think of myself as a writer of novels, as all that seems to belong to another life."
Churchill died in Winter Park, Florida in 1947. He is the great-grandfather of Albany, New York, journalist Chris Churchill.
Confusion with the British statesman
Churchill met and occasionally communicated with the British statesman and author Winston Churchill (no known relation). It was the American Churchill who became famous earlier, and in the 1890s he was much better known than his British counterpart. The two are still occasionally confused, although the British Churchill wrote only one novel, Savrola, being better known for his popular histories and journalism.
Both Churchills had political careers, and were both noted amateur painters. The similarities extend to their tertiary education; both attended service colleges and briefly served simultaneously as officers in their respective countries' armed forces.
The British Churchill, upon becoming aware of the American Churchill's books, wrote to him suggesting that he would sign his own works "Winston S. Churchill", using his middle name (actually part of his surname), "Spencer", to differentiate them. This suggestion was accepted, with the comment that the American Churchill would have done the same, had he any middle names.