Social Media Claim

No evidence to link Churchill to caring about what people think quote

A Facebook post from August 10, 2019 features a quote attributed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill.

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post from August 10, 2019 by Gold Coast Community which features a quote attributed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill.

The quote, which appears in the foreground of an image of the British statesman, reads: “When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”

Gold Coast Community describes itself as “the Gold Coast's biggest community page” and is a “free service for the benefit of residents and visitors to Australia's Gold Coast”. The page has over 60,000 likes.

The post had been shared more than 160 times and attracted more than 10 comments and 300 reactions

The National Churchill Museum says there is no record of Winston Churchill "writing or ever saying" the quote attributed to him.

The Analysis

Winston Churchill was a decorated statesman, politician, orator and author who led the British army to victory in World War II under his prime ministership. Researchers who studied his life told AAP FactCheck the quote attributed to 1953 Nobel Prize winner in the post was not accurate.

Lee Pollock, interim executive director at The International Churchill Society told AAP FactCheck the quote was “a catchy phrase attributed (like many others) to Churchill but there is no evidence he ever said it”.

The International Churchill Society, based in Washington DC, describes itself as “the world’s pre-eminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill”.

Timothy Riley, Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout director and chief Curator of the National Churchill Museum, told AAP FactCheck that “in the great many speeches, articles, books and addresses by Churchill, there is no record of Churchill writing or ever saying this”.

“If these words were uttered, it is unlikely they came from Churchill, at least based on his own experience,” Mr Riley said. “At 20 Churchill was full of ambition and was very aware of how others perceived him. At 40, after he was forced to resign as First Lord of the Admiralty after the failed Dardanelles campaign in World War I, he cared deeply about what others thought as he defended his actions in the wake of a disastrous military defeat.In his mid 60s, he was prime minister leading Britain during its most challenging hour as his nation stood alone against a formidable and terrible Nazi threat. The quote in question is not only not by Churchill, it isn’t Churchill either.” The National Churchill Museum is based on the campus of Westminster College in Missouri and “commemorates and celebrates the life, times, and distinguished career of Sir Winston Churchill”.

AAP FactCheck searched for the quote in the International Churchill Society quotes archive and the “50 Sir Winston Churchill Quotes to Live By” collated by BBC America, but could not find any evidence linking him to the quote.

Richard Langworth, a senior fellow with the Hillsdale College Churchill Project, published a list of “All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (1)” and included the attributed quote on the list.

The Verdict

Based on this evidence, AAP FactCheck found the attribution of the quote to Winston Churchill about caring what others think at certain ages to be false. According to experts on Churchill, there is no evidence to link the former British leader to the quote.

  • False - The Facebook post is false.

First published August 19, 2019 12:11 AEST