Churchill's archive to go online

Winston Churchill in a 1941 photo by Yousuf Karsh. REUTERS/File

LONDON (Reuters) - Winston Churchill’s school reports, a drinking bet he once made, and even information on his budgie will be available to all when the wartime Prime Minister’s archive goes online.

The digitised archive will offer an insight into Churchill’s personal and professional life, from his school days up to his final years as a statesman during the Cold War.

Bloomsbury will publish 2,500 archival boxes of Churchill’s letters, telegrams, manuscripts and photographs in 2012, after striking a deal with the Churchill Archive Trust (CAC).

“As an archival collection, there’s nothing like this,” said publisher of Bloomsbury Academic Frances Pinter.

For a modest, up-front fee, users will be able to search through over 1 million items including a personal copy of the “finest hour” speech, and the less well-known “Savrola,” a novel Churchill wrote when he was 23 years old.

The price is yet to be decided, but Bloomsbury say they will keep it low to maximise the archive’s reach.

Since 1995, when the archive was bought from Churchill’s heirs using 12 million pounds of lottery money, it has been housed in Cambridge, where it can only be viewed by appointment.

Reporting Isabel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison