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Churchill quote on what people think of you is not by Churchill

This article is more than 5 years old

Winston Churchill, UK prime minister during the second world war, is remembered as a statesman, orator and writer.

In the course of his life – Churchill died in 1965 – he made many memorable pronouncements on personal, social and economic issues.

One quote attributed to Churchill, about ignoring what people think of you, is regularly shared on Facebook.

It 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 realise no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”

It’s been shared as both text and a meme. Dozens of wallpapers feature the quote.

But Churchill never said it.

No record in official Churchill quotes

Fact-checkers at Politifact, Snopes and India Today agree the quote was falsely attributed to him.

The International Churchill Society has compiled verified quotes by the British politician. The quote isn’t there.

The society was founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill’s death, and is dedicated to preserving his historic legacy. Africa Check contacted Lee Pollock, its interim director, to ask about the quote.

“This is not a quote by Churchill,” he told us.

All the ‘quotes’ Churchill never said

Soren Geiger, an author at the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College in the US, confirmed that Churchill never said or wrote the quote.

“The quotation you shared cannot be attributed to Winston Churchill,” she told Africa Check. She referred us to All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said, a site maintained by Churchill Project senior fellow Richard M Langworth.

There we found the quote – one of the many wrongly attributed to Churchill – under the entry caring what others think.

Langworth has authored and edited several books on Churchill. These include Churchill by Himself, Churchill in His Own Words and The Definitive Wit of Winston Churchill. 

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