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At this week’s Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives, Richard Lang­worth, senior fellow with Hills­dale’s Churchill Project, spoke on Winston Churchill’s love of Shake­speare, espe­cially “Henry V.” External Affairs

Winston Churchill knew much of Shakespeare’s work by heart, writer and his­torian Richard Lang­worth said at a lecture for Hillsdale’s fourth Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives.

Lang­worth delighted audience members with anec­dotes of Churchill’s Shake­speare fandom during a talk delivered March 25. Churchill, he said, was known to recite the lines along with actors when he attended plays, much to fellow audience members’ amusement, but still had a rev­erence for the themes of Shakespeare’s writings.  

“He used Shake­speare to ornament his lan­guage and punc­tuate his thoughts,” Lang­worth said.

Stu­dents, parents, and friends of the college attended the lecture, which was held in the Searle Center.

Langworth’s lecture fol­lowed a screening earlier that day of Lau­rence Olivier’s “Henry V,” a film adap­tation of Shakespeare’s play which Churchill admired. “Henry V” chron­icles the life and reign of England’s King Henry V, who led the nation to victory in the Battle of Agin­court during the Hundred Years’ War.

A Senior Fellow with Hillsdale College’s Churchill Project, Lang­worth founded the Inter­na­tional Churchill Society in 1968 and has written a dozen books about Churchill.

In his speech, Lang­worth expounded the impor­tance of Henry V, Churchill’s famil­iarity with Shake­speare, Churchill’s friendship with Lau­rence Olivier, and the par­allels between Henry V and Churchill’s story.

The his­torian observed that Henry V set a fine example of states­manship, and Churchill was cap­ti­vated by his lead­ership for good, as depicted in Olivier’s movie. Churchill admired Olivier’s work, and enjoyed a long friendship with the actor and director.

Churchill was inspired by Henry V’s political phi­losophy, according to Lang­worth. Churchill saw Henry V as “entirely national,” Lang­worth said, and he admired his pri­or­i­ti­zation of England’s unity.

Churchill once observed in a speech that Henry V “led the nation away from internal discord to foreign con­quest.”

Just as Henry V’s success in the Hundred Years’ War earned him glory as a great warrior king, Churchill will forever be remem­bered for the pre­science, courage, and indomitability with which he led England during World War II, according to Langsworth?

Joe and Diane Deiss said Olivier’s movie and Langworth’s talk taught them about states­manship.

“Lead­ership lies heavily on people who care about a mission and the people in the mission,” Diane Deiss said.

Junior Avalon McK­inney said attending this CCA has intro­duced her to a dif­ferent side of Churchill.

“I thought it was inter­esting to see the con­nection between Churchill and the men he looked up to in British history,” she said. “I was shocked to see what a fan he was of scripting and the movies.”