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.
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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