This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston Churchill, with a year-long national campaign planned across the UK. Coinciding with this is the recently published Dinner with Churchill by Robin Hawdon.
The novel shines a spotlight on an extraordinary event at the beginning of World War II – a little-known meeting between Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, which may have changed the course of British politics.
On October 13th 1939, it appears that Churchill and his wife Clementine entertained Chamberlain and his wife Anne with a private dinner at Admiralty House. It was an event which caused great speculation around the corridors of Whitehall and Westminster, since it was well known that the two politicians had been arch political enemies for years over the appeasement issue.
The dinner party was the one and only time the four ill-matched people had met alone socially. Almost nothing is known about the event except for one laconic entry in Churchill‘s diary – “Had the Chamberlains to dinner. The evening went well.”
Part historical drama, part spy story, part romance, Robin Hawdon’s novel explores the possibilities of the occasion through a fictional account of the evening. Told from the perspective of one of Churchill‘s overworked but adoring secretaries, who by chance gets drawn into a world of secret warfare, espionage and honey traps, and the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.
A stage play imagining the event is due for production next year.