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Reading in the Family of Winston Churchill: Part 1

Mary Soames, the youngest of Winston Churchill’s five children, published her memoir A Daughter’s Tale in 2011 at the age of 89. She talks about her childhood in great detail. I was especially interested in what she read.

Here is a quote about her early childhood years:

“At the end of each of these busily and happily occupied days came an evening ritual – reading aloud. This was a treasured highlight of my routine, and my greatest punishment was to be deprived of this great treat. Starting after teatime, Nana [Mary’s nanny] would read to me; when bedtime arrived, we adjourned upstairs, and the reading continued while I undressed, folding my clothes carefully (Nana keeping one eye on the page, and one supervising this process); we then removed to the adjacent bathroom, where I took as long as possible to wash…Swathed in a towel, I would try to spin more time out: “Oh, we must finish the chapter – please…” p. 29

They must have been reading for several hours every night!

In her early childhood, Mary listened to her nanny reading all of Beatrix Potter and of Winnie, the Pooh by A.A. Milne, also Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass , Black Beauty, The Cuckoo Clock and The Tapestry Room by Mrs. Molesworth, Kenneth Graham’s The Wind In the Willows, Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

Later, they moved on to Little Women, the What Katy Did series, The Little Duke by Charlotte M. Yonge, Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the novels of Charles Dickens, Harriet Martineau’s The Peasant and the Prince, Harriet Beecher-Stowes’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Oscar Wilde’s collection of tales titled The Selfish Giant.

Mary considers George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and Curdie her magic books followed by C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. She was introduced to poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse.

A lot of these titles are favorites in our house, but there are quite a few unknown to us. I am sure, they will make good reading for Catholic kids.

To be continued…

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