A Place and Station To Which Our Tradition and Undying Genius Entitle Us

Winston Churchill? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Winston Churchill once spoke about the “undying genius” of his fellow citizens while exhorting them to make a “supreme effort” to maintain a successful country. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1952 Winston Churchill visited his alma mater, the Harrow School in London, and delivered a speech which was described in “The Yorkshire Post” 1 and the “Manchester Guardian”. He spoke about Britain’s future after the extreme experiences of WW2. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

You must not suppose that the troubles of Britain are over . . .
On the contrary, we may feel that in the world which has grown so much vaster all round us and towers up about us, we in this small island have to make a supreme effort to keep our place and station, a place and station to which our tradition and undying genius entitle us. A great effort is required and you, to whom much of the future belongs, will play your part in this proud, equal, democratic England.

Below is one more citation and a conclusion.

Churchill’s speech was mentioned in the 1988 biography “Never Despair: Winston S. Churchill, 1945-1965” by Martin Gilbert: 3

In the world ‘which has grown so much vaster all around us and towers up above us’, Churchill told the boys of Harrow School on November 7, ‘we in this small Island have to make a supreme effort to keep our place and station, the place and station to which our undying genius entitles us’.

In conclusion, Churchill did refer to the undying genius of his compatriots during a speech at the Harrow School in 1952.

(Great thanks to Glyn Hughes whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Glyn Hughes located an excellent citation for the speech in an issue of the newspaper “Truth” dated November 14, 1952.)


  1. 1952 November 8, The Yorkshire Post, Mr. Churchill at his old school: Hears Harrow boys sing songs he selected, Quote Page 1, Column 6, Yorkshire, England. (British Newspaper Archive)
  2. 1952 November 8, Manchester Guardian, Sixty Years On: Mr Churchill Hears Harrovians Sing, Quote Page 10, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com) link
  3. 1988, Never Despair: Winston S. Churchill, 1945-1965 by Martin Gilbert, Part 3: Second Premiership 1951-1955, Chapter 41: Towards Seventy-Eight, and Beyond, Quote Page 773, Stoddart Publishing Company, Toronto, Canada. (Verified with scans)