Perhaps I'm just very bad at googling; though I can find numerous articles describing the discovery of Churchill's writings on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, I can't find the original essays.

The article in Nature mentions some particulars:

I was on a visit to the US National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, when the director Timothy Riley thrust a typewritten essay by Churchill into my hands. In the 11-page article, 'Are We Alone in the Universe?', he muses presciently about the search for extraterrestrial life.

He penned the first draft, perhaps for London's News of the World Sunday newspaper, in 1939 — when Europe was on the brink of war. He revised it lightly in the late 1950s while staying in the south of France at the villa of his publisher, Emery Reves. For example, he changed the title from 'Are We Alone in Space?' to 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' to reflect changes in scientific understanding and terminology.

According to a later paragraph:

To the best of Riley's knowledge, the essay remained in the Reves's private collection and has never been published or subjected to scientific or academic scrutiny.

I can't locate a version of the original essays online. Are these available somewhere in digital or printed form? Have they subsequently been published since rediscovery in 2017?

  • 1
    Is it Fifty Years Hence - the article you cite gives the reference to Nature, which seems to refer to this
    – MCW
    Mar 16, 2021 at 14:54
  • @justCal It says at the end "Winston Churchill. December 1931. Originally published in Strand Magazine"
    – Henry
    Mar 16, 2021 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


A BBC article from 15 Feb 2017, Winston Churchill's views on aliens revealed in lost essay on the same subject has a relevant detail (emphasis mine):

Dr Livio told BBC News that there were no firm plans to publish the article because of issues surrounding the copyright. However, he said the Churchill Museum was working to resolve these so that the historically important essay can eventually see the light of day.

So apparently we will have to wait for copyright issues to be cleared up before any full copies can be published.

  • I guess we have to wait until 2035 then, at least in the states.
    – user15620
    Mar 17, 2021 at 2:02
  • The article insinuated some form of negotiations, so maybe once things get back to normal something will be worked out before then. We'll just have to wait and see...
    – justCal
    Mar 17, 2021 at 2:10
  • By strange coincidence, I was reading the wiki on H.G. Wells and discovered that Churchill was an avid fan, which helps explain the essay.
    – user15620
    Mar 30, 2021 at 0:03

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