University of Alaska-Anchorage: Winston Churchill and the Animal Kingdom

University of Alaska-Anchorage: “Churchill’s Menagerie: Winston Churchill and the Animal Kingdom”


One of Winston Churchill’s key characteristics, which Piers Brendon examines in detail for the first time, was his fascination with the animal kingdom. To a quite extraordinary degree Churchill was amused, intrigued, enchanted, and besotted by creatures great and small. They ranged from his pet cats, poodles, budgerigars, and golden orfe, via horses, swans, parrots, and butterflies, to his own lion, leopard, and white kangaroos kept at London Zoo – he even tried to acquire a duck-billed platypus. Dr. Brendon reveals the crucial part animals played in Churchill’s life. They haunted his imagination. He identified with them, for example deliberately personifying the British bulldog as wartime Prime Minister. They supplied him with rich imagery, typified by his declaration that the British people had the lion’s heart but he had the luck to be called upon to give the roar. And they occupied a paradoxical position in his affections: an animal-loving hunter, he pursued foxes but kept them as pets, speared hogs but scratched the backs of pigs, liked fishing but loved fish. Using many unstudied archival documents, Dr. Brendon gives a new perspective on the wit, wisdom, and wayward genius of a man acclaimed as the greatest Briton.

Monday, November 30, 2020 • 11:30 PM EST
A virtual lecture

Free and open to the public

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Piers Brendon is the author of sixteen books, including a brief life of Winston Churchill and biographies of President Eisenhower and King Edward VIII, as well as such wide-ranging histories as The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s and The Decline and Fall of the British Empire. Dr. Brendon has written and reviewed widely for the national press in Britain and has contributed to American journals such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He frequently appears on television, often as an authority on royal history. For six years he was Keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre, the repository of the papers of Sir Winston Churchill (and Margaret Thatcher). Dr. Brendon is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Learn more about Piers Brendon >>



The Chartwell Lecture Series, named after Winston S. Churchill’s house near Westerham in the English county of Kent, focuses on a wide variety of subjects in the liberal arts. The Series is the successor to the Polaris Lecture Series, founded by Professors Stephen W. Haycox and James W. Muller in the mid-1980s to commemorate the bicentenary of the American Constitution and later broadening its focus to include the full range of subjects in the humanities.

Learn more about the Chartwell Lecture Series at the University of Alaska >>



This event is supported by Jack Miller Center’s Pacific Northwest Initiative: Advancing Education in America’s Founding Principles and History. Thanks to the generous grant from MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, JMC is working with faculty to organize exciting campus events in the region. The Initiative also provides programs, conferences and other opportunities for professors in the PNW—all to help them make a difference in the education of their students.



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