Celia Sandys: A Brush with History

Hon. Celia Sandys, John C. Snider and Allison Byrd, Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, GA, March 8, 2008

Allison and I were lucky enough to attend a lecture by the Hon. Celia Sandys (pronounced “Sands”), granddaughter of Winston Churchill and an expert on his life, having written several books about her “grandpapa”.  Her talk was part of a larger celebration of the 75th anniversary of Churchill’s visit to Atlanta in February 1932.  The event was hosted by the Winston Churchill Society of Georgia (yes, there is such a thing, and no one was more surprised than me), and took place on the beautiful campus of Oglethorpe University.  Thanks to organizer Bill Fisher of Churchill Georgia for the photo. 

(Alas, Ms. Sandys was afflicted by bad blink timing, while I managed to look poleaxed, as usual.  At least Allison had the presence to look both lovely and awake.  Sandys was a pleasant conversationalist.  We shared a few minutes talking about her and Allison’s shared hair color, and about John Keegan’s concise biography of Churchill – which we had read a few months ago.)

Ms. Sandys’s talk consisted mostly of her memories of her famous grandfather (she was 20 or so when he passed away in 1965).  Her early childhood memories include food shortages (despite her advantaged position); dining with heads of state, diplomats and celebrities; vacationing in France while her grandfather painted; and cruising the Mediterranean aboard Aristotle Onassis’s personal yacht!  Her remembrances were tempered by an acute awareness of just how lucky she was.  She shared several humorous anecdotes and answered questions from the audience.

Sandys books about her grandfather include The Young Churchill, Churchill: Wanted Dead or Alive (about his Boer War exploits), Chasing Churchill: The Travels of Winston Churchill, the simply titled Churchill (a companion volume to a TV documentary), and We Shall Not Fail: The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill.

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