However small Winston had been at birth he was soon a chubby baby, and the ‘dark eyes and hair’ which his father noticed at his birth became blue eyes and ginger hair. His parents obtained a middle-aged nurse to look after him — Mrs Elizabeth Ann Everest, a kindly woman born in Chatham in Kent and evidently imbued with strong Low Church principles. She was to stay with the family until Winston was grown up, looking after the two children and later keeping house. Winston gave her the nickname of ‘Woom’, and responded warmly to the affection that she showed him. Some years after she had died, he was to reflect on the nature of a relationship of this kind, describing it as ‘perhaps … the only disinterested affection in the world’ and ‘one of the few proofs … that the nature of man is superior to mere utilitarianism, and that his destinies are high’.1 Mrs Everest was already looking after Winston in 1876 when the family moved to Ireland; in later life his earliest recollection was of the house in Phoenix Park, and of his nurse’s fear of the Fenians, the Irish revolutionaries who were engaged on a campaign of violence against the union of Britain and Ireland. Winston found more to be afraid of in the advent of a ‘governess’, who already before he was five was temporarily engaged to teach him to read.
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