Churchill & the Irishman
Our exhibition about Brendan Bracken was the first time that the publisher and politician has ever been the subject of an exhibition. We were very excited about telling the remarkable story of his life in the city where Bracken grew up. Sponsored by the Financial Times, a publication close to Bracken's heart.
One of the most intriguing and influential Irishmen of the 20th Century, Brendan Bracken grew up in Dublin, but had an uneasy relationship with Ireland, and was a notorious inventor of his own past. Winston Churchill’s son, Randolph, once described Bracken as “the fantasist whose dreams came true.”
The son of a prominent Fenian and founder member of the GAA, Bracken left Ireland for Australia in the spring of 1916. He was fourteen years old. Later he spent a term in an English public school, before rising to prominence as a publisher – of the Economist and, later, the Financial Times. Bracken also enjoyed a successful career as a Conservative MP, and was Winston Churchill’s closest friend in politics for many years. During the Second World War he served as a very successful Minister of Information in the wartime cabinet.
The curators of Churchill & the Irishman were Charles Lysaght, author of the seminal 1979 biography Brendan Bracken, and the subject’s nephew, who is also called Brendan Bracken. “Without him Churchill might not have survived politically, let alone become Prime Minister,” said Charles Lysaght. “He was also a spin doctor par excellence half a century before the term was invented. And he was the effective founding father of the modern Financial Times, Britain's highest quality daily newspaper.”
Bracken’s letters home to his mother are a key piece of evidence in this exhibition. They constitute the most intimate record of this elusive subject in his own words. Reflecting on subjects like Churchill, WB Yeats and Anglo-Irish relations, the letters reveal the inner thoughts of a brash young man in a hurry. They were recently purchased at auction by the Little Museum of Dublin.
The exhibition was formally opened by John Ridding, Chief Executive of the Financial Times, on July 1st.
“The twists and turns of Bracken’s life are an affront to anyone who has a narrow view of what it means to be Irish,” said museum director Trevor White. “We can’t wait to share this extraordinary story with a new generation of global adventurers.”
Churchill & the Irishman ran until September 28th, 2016, in the Ireland Funds Gallery, the Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
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© Images Colourised by Tom Marshall at PhotograFix 2016