Winston Who?: One in Four British Citizens Believe Churchill Never Existed

In an indictment of the once-unassailable British educational system, a quarter of British citizens believe that Winston Churchill was a purely fictional character. However, half believe that Eleanor Rigby, the Beattles’ creation, was a real person.

Fictional Character?

What is curious is that Churchill once said that “History is written by the victors.” Yet, he won but many of his countrymen know that Hitler existed but not the man who beat him.

Of course, recent studies have shown equal ignorance of Americans of our own history. Almost the same number reportedly doubt the existence of FDR and Lincoln. However, this poll comes on the heels of a controversy over a Woolworths’ line of beds for young girls named “The Lolita.” The real scandal, discussed here, was not that the store appeared to be capturing the pedaphile market, but that no one in the British management knew about Nabokov or his 1955 novel.

In this latest blow to British Educators . . .

According to the survey of 3,000 respondents, many believe the inspirational Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, Cleopatra and the Duke of Wellington are also characters dreamed up for films and books.Some think Charles Dickens was himself a character in fiction rather than the creator of David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Martin Chuzzlewit.

In a damning indictment of the nation’s historical knowledge, many of those surveyed said they believe Sherlock Holmes was a real person, along with the pilot Biggles and even the Three Musketeers.

Of course, Churchill was no idealist about our ability to avoid knowledge. He once said “We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

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7 thoughts on “Winston Who?: One in Four British Citizens Believe Churchill Never Existed”

  1. Having grown up in the US and lived in the UK, Europe, and Canada, education systems in most of the western world are evaporating from a base of rigour that might have been established 40 years ago. Indeed, at that time British and French educational systems were very strict and demonstrated highly stringent standards. There was none of this ‘progressive’ invasion that began in the 60’s.

    I used to employ university graduates in the UK who could not spell. They put the blame directly on the progressive system that had swept through their schools in the 60’s and 70’s.

    The US, Canada, and France – systems of which I have experience are similarly devalued. The French system used to be 5 and a half days a week and turned out children who would jump one or two grades if they came to North America. Not true any longer. Pressure over the years from teacher unions and allowing politics to dictate education has devalued the French system as surely as it has the North American ones.

    My wife is a web administrator and she used to receive regular e-mail enquiries or administrative issues from the US customer base. I used to have to help her translate the spelling mistakes and grammar errors because they were barely readable in at least 50% of the mails.

    In light of this major educational devaluing program that has obviously been applied over most of the western world for the last few decades, is it any wonder that the USA has allowed its presidential election process to become not just a shambles, but an insult to intelligence, where demagoguery and vacuous positioning (the other candidate) are substituted for political debate? What on earth would McCain and Obama have said about Quemoy and Matsu? “Huh?” is the first thing that comes to mind.

    We’re doomed.

  2. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
    — Winston S. Churchill

  3. Oh Susan, these tests indicate that our species is going into de-evolution around the globe. This blog shows ample support for the reverse trend away from the intelligent biped model. Witch doctors in Alaska, people killing boys for love letters, children burned at witches . . . at this rate, we will lose the cerebral cortex entirely by year 2026 (2027 at the latest). I, for one, have locked away the secret to fire (pictorial of course) for the coming post-homo sapiens era.

  4. I couldn’t agree more! Sadly, this miserable state of affairs in education has been the case in American schools for a long time, and it is getting steadily worse. What surprises me is that this absence of British history is coming from the BRITISH school system.

  5. I wish I could say I was surprised. It gets even worse when the teachers are among the ones who don’t know these things.

    It’s kind of surreal to be in a US History class with a teacher who doesn’t know how many amendments there in the constitution, or about Pearl Harbor.

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