The Folger Shakespeare Library
Silhouettes of Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare with the words "Churchill's Shakespeare"

Churchill and Shakespeare

Winston Churchill was born in 1874 — 300 years after Shakespeare. His life spanned the reigns of two of Britain’s greatest monarchs, Queen Victoria and the current Queen, Elizabeth II. Shakespeare, born in 1564, spent most of his life during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Shakespeare’s England was relatively peaceful compared to Churchill’s. Rather than participating in war himself, Shakespeare looked back to English history and wrote about the feats of Henry V and the great civil Wars of the Roses. In his history plays, ringing speeches and colorful images celebrate real or imagined turning points in English history.

Britain was involved in wars for much of Churchill’s life, including World Wars I and II, and he himself served as a soldier before becoming a wartime leader. His brilliant and moving speeches, inspired by Shakespeare’s words and rhythms, would boost the morale of British and American citizens during these difficult times.

This site, like its companion physical exhibition held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. in 2018/2019, celebrates the eloquent language of Churchill and Shakespeare and features the words of both men as they echo through the ages.

We hope Churchill’s Shakespeare will leave you thinking about the power of language and why it remains important to us today.

Politics and Persuasion

International Churchill Society logo

In partnership with

Churchill Archives Centre logo

provided generous curatorial and collections support

with generous support from

The Blavatnik Family Foundation; James Lintott; Ambassador Matthew Barzun and Brooke Brown Barzun, in honor of Vinton Cerf; Lewis E. Lehrman; Albert and Shirley Small; the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation; Anonymous Donors; and the Winton and Carolyn Blount Fund of the Folger Shakespeare Library.