Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 20, Number 3, September 1998.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill and editor of his papers since 1968, has added another volume to his extraordinary documentation of the British statesman's life and career. In the mid-1990s, this historian at Merton College, Oxford, was knighted for completing the official biography, which was started by Churchill's son in the early 1960s. When Randolph Churchill died, the holder of the copyright asked Gilbert, then one of Randolph's research assistants, to continue the official biography along the lines that had already been established by the family and the British and U.S. publishers. The first two volumes, Youth, 1874-1900, with its two companion volumes of supporting documents, as well as Young Statesman, 1900-1914, with three accompanying volumes, were published under Randolph's name (4,826 pp.). Gilbert wrote volume III, covering the years 1914-16, and edited and annotated its two companion volumes (2,673 pp.); volume Iv, on 1917- 22, with three accompanying volumes (3,132 pp.); volume V, on 1922-39, with three companion volumes (4,679 pp.); volume VI, on 1939-41 (1,308 pp.); volume VII, on 1941- 45 (1,417 pp.); and volume VIII, on 1945-65 (1,438 pp.). Without adding the many volumes of Churchill's war papers and subsequent companion volumes that have continued to appear since 1993, Gilbert's work on Churchill already weighs about 75 pounds! Those who are interested in Gilbert's experiences as Churchill's official biographer and editor of his papers can gain many insights from reading his In Search of Churchill: A Historian's Journey (New York: Wiley, 1995).