Today I learned that Winston Churchill had his speeches typed up in what looks like free verse (or “Psalm form,” as his office called it) so that he could plan and rehearse the rhythm and the pauses. (More here.)
Churchill wrote every word of his many speeches — he said he spent an hour working on every minute of a speech he made. At the Morgan Library are several drafts of a single speech from February 1941, when England stood alone against the Nazi onslaught and Churchill appealed to President Roosevelt for aid. The first draft looks like a normal typescript; the final draft, says Kiely, “looks like a draft of a poem.”
Here’s a draft of Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech, compared with the final “Psalm form”:
Another thing I learned about Churchill: he took up painting at the age of 40 to battle his depression and wrote a book about it called, Painting as a Pastime:
Just to paint is great fun. The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out. Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing. Try it if you have not done so – before you die.
God bless the English and their penchant for hobbies!