Winston Churchill by Karsh, the idea of romance attached to the subject might seem a little far-fetched.. The story behind the portrait is that Karsh pulled the cigar from Churchill's mouth when he refused to take it out and then snapped
the photograph, getting the desired expression of mutinous determination. English bulldog, yes. World War II symbol of victory, yes. Prolific writer of history, yes. Romantic hero, a little more difficult. We can so easily picture him as he gave his "We will fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,...we will never surrender" speech but it's a little bit of a stretch to imagine him courting and winning a
woman's love. But to his wife Clementine he was "a softie."
After a brief meeting four years earlier, they met at a
dinner party and were immediately attracted to each other. Clementine had an interest in politics which stayed with her during her marriage and she also had a good intelligence and a quick wit, making her a perfect match for Winston, although she suffered from shyness.
Over the years of their courtship and marriage they wrote
an estimated 1700 letters and notes to each other which were saved and published in a volume by their youngest daughter Mary Soames. Many of these letters were written when they were under the same roof. They were both hot
headed and putting their thoughts on paper must have helped to avoid confrontation. Their letters were mostly affectionate and signed by their own little custom of drawings- a cat for her and a pug for him.
In one letter to Clementine, Churchill shows his romantic
loving side, "I kiss your visage as it rises before my mind, your dear heart throbs often in my own." Words worthy of a romantic poet and a far different picture of the man than the Karsh photo but just as much a part of him.
He must have been at times a difficult man to live with,
with his "black dog" of depression that followed him and
his boundless energy and quick temper. Clementine also had a strong will and their household must have throbbed with intensity on occasion, but their love was an enduring one. Winston and Clementine Churchill were married for 56 years.
Churchill has many witty and insightful quotes attributed
to him but one of my favourites is when he said, "My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me." Now that's the statement of a romantic.