chaplin

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Never in the field of personal finance has so much been owed to so many by one man


Finally got round to reading "No More Champagne", David Lough's book about Churchill and his money. This confirmed me in my view that we are mistaken when we assume that the wealthy aren't bothered about money because they've got enough. He was obsessed.

Churchill was born with all the expectations of a 19th century aristocrat without any of the funds. Everything he bought was charged and paid for later. Much later. He smoked a dozen cigars a day and at one stage didn't pay his cigar bill for five years. In 1932 he earned £15,000, which made him one of the best-paid people in the country. The problem was that in the same year he spent £30,000.

Unlike most of his peers Churchill didn't own any land, politics was a precarious business and the only way he could really make money was by his pen. Since he dictated most of it would be more accurate to say that he earned it with his voice. In the 30s he was constantly cranking out some piece for an American magazine or a British newspaper in order to pay the tax bill of the year before last. He had to be so productive that he sometimes engaged young historians who were paid a pittance to write stuff that would appear under his own name. 

The thing that changed everything was the war. When it began he owed money all over town. When it finished his bank account was groaning with funds. That money had been placed there by publishers keen to profit from the celebrity that war had brought him. For the rest of his life he was box office.

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