Churchill, a romantic not just confined to affairs of the Empire

Winston Churchill's romanticism was not only confined to the affairs of state as many women were charmed by him and he also proposed to three of the most beautiful women of his time, including American actress Ethel Barrymore, though without any success, says a new book on the late British Prime Minister.

American biographer Michael Shelden's "Young Titan: The Making Of Winston Churchill" is a tale of romance, ambition, intrigue and glamour in Edwardian London, when the city was the centre of the world, and when its best and brightest were dazzled by the meteoric rise to power of a young politician with a famous name and a long aristocratic background.

"It's hard to believe that the man we know so well in his old age was once a dashing figure of slender frame with reddish hair and a boy's freckled face. Many women were charmed by him, though this romantic side of his youth has never been given much attention in biographies," Shelden says.

"Most people are unaware that he proposed to three of the most beautiful women of his time — including the young American actress Ethel Barrymore — and was turned down each time. Yet each of the women remained lifelong friends, and at least two in later years regretted turning him down," Shelden told PTI.

The book published by Simon & Schuster mentions how Churchill tried and failed to win the hand of the Barrymore, whose stage aspirations clashed with his political ambition. New letters from Barrymore and her friends tell about the details of a whirlwind relationship previously shrouded in mystery.

Besides, it uses overlooked diaries and letters to tell for the first time the true story of how a young Winston and Clementine Hozier met, and why their hastily arranged marriage was almost called off. It has a complete account of Churchill's romantic involvement with two legendary Edwardian beauties, Pamela Plowden and Muriel Wilson. Each broke his heart when he was young, yet he became lifelong friends with both.

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