In late 1941, at the height of Britain’s troubles as the sole surviving, able-to-fight exponent of democratic government in Europe, Winston Churchill paid a visit to his old school, to hear the students sing and join them in song. He was asked to speak.
It was a short speech, wholly extemporaneous, but one phrase went on to become one of the most-quoted parts of any speech ever given, anywhere.
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense!
Winston S. Churchill, address to the boys of Harrow School, October 29, 1941.
- Full text of the speech, from the Churchill Centre in London (see/hear audio below in YouTube piece)
- Time lists the speech #1 in its list of top commencement speeches; but this was not a commencement ceremony
- Details of Churchill’s visits to Harrow from Winston Churchill: A Biographical Companion
- No, You’re Not Quoting Churchill (npr.org)
- A Churchill ‘Quote’ That U.S. Politicians Will Never Surrender (npr.org)
- Our Churchill (powerlineblog.com)
- Winston Churchill Lliveblogs World War II: October 29, 1941 (delong.typepad.com)
- Churchill Ceremony Teaser Released (speaker.gov)
Given last night’s coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, Churchill’s comments never had more meaning.