7 questions on famous speeches

Great speeches quiz

Winston Churchill's famous speech, during the height of the Battle of Britain, will be 70 years old on Friday. It helped to galvanise a nation under attack. What about other great speeches from history? Test your knowledge in our midweek quiz.

Sir Winston Churchill

1.) Multiple Choice Question

What were the opening words of Churchill's famous Battle of Britain speech?

Spitfires in flight
  1. "We have reached one of the climacterics..."
  2. "Almost a year has passed..."
  3. "The great day of victory over Germany has come"


Sir Winston gave the speech to Parliament on 20 August 1940, reflecting on the first year of the war. In reference to the RAF heroics in repelling the Luftwaffe, he uttered the speech's most famous line: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

RAF pilots

2.) Multiple Choice Question

Probably the most famous American speech, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 1863 took how long to deliver?

Abraham Lincoln
  1. A little over two minutes
  2. A little over 12 minutes
  3. A little over 20 minutes

3.) Multiple Choice Question

Which formidable leader admitted in a speech to rally troops that she had "the body of a weak and feeble woman"?

  1. Joan of Arc
    Joan of Arc
  2. Boudicca
  3. Elizabeth I
    Elizabeth I

4.) Multiple Choice Question

Barack Obama spoke of carrying forth "the great gift of freedom" in his inaugural speech as US president in 2009. But which singer performed at the ceremony?

Barack Obama at his inauguration
  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Stevie Wonder
  3. Aretha Franklin

5.) Multiple Choice Question

Who delivered the famous "friends, Romans, countrymen..." speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

Scene from Julius Caesar
  1. Julius Caesar
  2. Mark Antony
  3. Marcus Brutus

6.) Multiple Choice Question

John F Kennedy famously declared "Ich bin ein Berliner" in solidarity to citizens during a Cold War trip to West Berlin. But how does "Berliner" translate in parts of Germany?

John F Kennedy
  1. A traditional costume
  2. A type of doughnut
  3. A measure of beer

7.) Multiple Choice Question

The longest Oscar acceptance speech clocked in at more than five minutes. But who gave it?

  1. Olivia de Havilland
    Olivia de Havilland
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow
    Gwyneth Paltrow
  3. Greer Garson
    Greer Garson


  1. It's "almost a year has passed". Churchill's "fourth climacteric" speech referred to Germany's invasion of Russia in June 1941. The "great day of victory" was Stalin's, in 1945, after Germany's defeat. His speech began: "Comrades, men and women compatriots."
  2. It's a little over two minutes. Famed orator Edward Everett had spoken for two hours before Lincoln but the president eclipsed him in just 272 words.
  3. It's Elizabeth I, who added that she had "the heart and stomach of a king" ahead of taking on the Spanish Armada. Joan of Arc led the army that broke the English siege of Orleans in 1429, while Boudicca's last rallying call was to the effect that men could "live as slaves" while women fought to the death.
  4. It's Aretha. Whitney performed at the USA World Cup closing ceremony in 1994 but not when President Obama was sworn in. Stevie Wonder sang at one of the numerous inauguration balls afterwards.
  5. It's Mark Antony. His eulogy to Caesar, which borrowed from Brutus's earlier speech beginning "Romans, countrymen, and lovers", helps turn the gathered crowd against Brutus and Caesar's assassins by convincing them that he was wrongly murdered.
  6. It's a doughnut. Known simply as Pfannkuchen in the German capital, where they are a speciality, in other areas they are dubbed the "Berliner". Scholars of German are quick to point out that JFK was not incorrect in using "ein". Saying "Ich bin Berliner", as the locals would, would have implied he was born in the city.
  7. It's Greer Garson, who picked up the Best Actress award in 1943 for her role in Mrs Miniver. De Havilland holds the record for thanking the most people - 27 - when she accepted the same award for To Each His Own in 1946. Paltrow's tearful speech in 1999, for Best Actress in Shakespeare in Love, was one of the more memorable in recent years.

Your Score

0 - 2 : Unforgiven

3 - 5 : Rocky

6 - 7 : It's A Wonderful Life

For a complete archive of past quizzes and our weekly news quiz, 7 days 7 questions, visit the Magazine page and scroll down. You can also do this quiz on your mobile device. Find out how to get the BBC News website on your mobile device

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