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A Letter from Winston Churchill’s Disappointed Mother

Winston Churchill was 15 years old and a student at Harrow School when his mother, Jennie Churchill, wrote him the following letter from London on June 12, 1890.

Dearest Winston,

… I have much to say to you, I’m afraid not of a pleasant nature. You know darling how I hate to find fault with you, but I can’t help myself this time … Your report which I enclose is as you will see a very bad one. You work in such a fitful inharmonious way, that you are bound to come out last—look at your place in the form! Your father & I are both more disappointed than we can say, that you are not able to go up for your preliminary exam: I daresay you have 1000 excuses for not doing so—but there the fact remains …

Dearest Winston you make me very unhappy … My only consolation is that your conduct is good and you are an affectionate son—but your work is an insult to your intelligence. If you would only trace out a plan of action for yourself & carry it out & be determined to do so—I am sure you could accomplish anything you wished. It is that thoughtlessness of yours which is your greatest enemy …

I will say no more now—but Winston you are old enough to see how serious this is to you—& how the next year or two & the use you make of them, will affect your whole life—stop & think it out for yourself & take a good pull before it is too late. You know dearest boy that I will always help you all I can.

Your loving but distressed


David Lough, “My Darling Winston: The Letters Between Winston Churchill and His Mother,” Pegasus Books, 2018)

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