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One of the accepted truths about the Churchill family is that Lord Randolph was a neglectful father because of his stressful political career and his Victorian attitudes towards child-rearing.

It has even been claimed that he positively disliked his children, who were 20 and 14 when he died, aged 45 in 1895, supposedly from syphilis.

The boat then started to drift away, leaving both in danger of drowning.

It is quite clear that he never thought that while you were single you would be unable to pay us an allowance, and the clause in the will covered the situation – which did actually arise – of your remarriage."Jennie's spendthrift habits were essential in her quest for social supremacy.

(The Lees claim he was suffering from an undetected brain tumour.)This caricature of an uncaring father is swept away by the Lees' study of the correspondence Lord Randolph maintained with his sons and with others about them throughout his frenetic but short life.

In fact, if anyone should be criticised it is their mother Jennie (née Jerome), an exuberant American socialite who, as the new book reveals, effectively robbed her sons of some £16,800 of income that was rightfully theirs – the equivalent of about £850,000 today.

Yet there is no question that the brothers loved each other dearly.

The evidence is there in the letters they exchanged throughout their lives.

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