The Splendid and the Vile

Please Note: Effective Jan., 7, 2022: Per tour management, all ticket buyers are required to be vaccinated for this event, in addition to wearing a mask while in the building and not eating or drinking (per the City of Portsmouth mandate). Proof of negative COVID test will not be accepted for this show. This requirement will be in addition to our usual COVID protocols.


On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course, 10 Downing Street in London. 

Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill, his family, and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

Out in paperback on February 15 before this event, The Splendid and the Vile takes readers back to a time of true leadership, when—in the face of unrelenting horror—Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.


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