In a 2002 poll conducted by the BBC, Winston Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time (from a pretty strong field of contenders it has to be said). Whether you would agree him worthy of that particular accolade, Churchill is unquestionably one of the most influential people in British history.
A great statesman and inspirational wartime leader, Churchill was both an incredible orator (despite a speech impediment) and a prolific writer, and by the time of his demise in 1965 had left behind a vast library of written and spoken material packed full of funny and memorable quotes, and here we present our favourites and lock them safely away in the vaults of Room 102.
Top of the list is more of a Churchill anecdote than a quote, but well worthy of inclusion all the same. It concerns the nocturnal shenanigans of a Royal Guardsman and a parliamentary backbencher in St James Park.
and the rest of our favourites:
Bessie Braddock: “Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more, you are disgustingly drunk.”
Churchill: “Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.”
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”
“My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.”
“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”
“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
“I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.”
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”