It has emerged that the unpublished 1950s essay referred to in the Comment ‘Winston Churchill’s essay on alien life found’ (M. Livio Nature 542, 289–291; 2017) and held at the US National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, is one of several versions. The Fulton holding, ‘Are we alone in the universe?’, is a light reworking of a 1939 draft, ‘Are we alone in space?’, held at the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, UK. Part of that draft — minus passages on the nature of life and on Jupiter — was published as ‘Are There Men on the Moon?’ in The Sunday Dispatch on 8 March 1942, and in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill (Library of Imperial History, 1975).