London: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1906. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition of Churchill's biography of his father, inscribed on the day before publication to Churchill's lifelong friend, confidante, and best man at his wedding, Hugh Cecil. The unusually personal inscription inked in black in four lines on the Volume I front free endpaper recto reads: "Linky / from / Winston S.C / 1 January 1906".
The ink is mildly age-toned, but remains distinct with no discernable age-spreading. The inscription page remains clean and bright. The books retain square and tight original bindings with sharp corners and nicely rounded spines. There is minor wear at the spine ends, mild sunning and staining of the spines, and a few spots on the Volume II covers. The contents are clean, bright, and complete. Spotting in both volumes is moderate, primarily confined to prelims and untrimmed page edges.
Each volume is housed in its own quarter dark red Morocco goatskin Solander case, hued complementary to the original binding, featuring gilt and blind-stamped hubbed spines and cloth-covered boards. Condition of each case is very good plus, shelf presentation excellent, the cloth boards showing minor shelf scuffs and a strip of differential toning to each upper rear cover.
Lord Hugh Richard Heathcote Gascoyne Cecil (1869-1956) - "Linky" to friends - was a Conservative MP from 1895 to 1937, then Provost of Eton College Oxford until 1944. He was best man at Churchill's wedding in 1908 and - at Winston's invitation - became Baron Quickswood in 1941. As a leader of the eponymous "Hughligans" – a dissident group of young Conservative back bench MPs - Linky strongly influenced Churchill's early Parliamentary career.
Winston labored over his father's biography from 1902-1905, a time Winston began as a dissident Tory (as his father had been) and ended as a turncoat Liberal. This work was fitting to inscribe to Linky. Both men began political careers preceded by famous fathers. But Linky's father was a living presence, Winston's a dead weight. Lord Salisbury was a Tory mainstay and thrice Prime Minister, his last premiership coinciding with Linky's election to Parliament. Lord Randolph, a fiery and erratic Tory, infamously died young, politically defeated and disgraced.
Linky remained faithful to the Tory party, if not to its policy and leadership. He spent more than 40 continuous years as a conservative MP, opposing Tory orthodoxy, but with less edge, angst, urgency, and ambition than Winston. Over 40 tumultuous years from his first election to his first premiership, Winston would successively represent, oppose, loathe, reject, rejoin, fiercely criticize, and finally lead the Conservative Party.
As early as 1901 Churchill considered leaving the Party and confided in Linky. On 28 December 1901, Linky wrote admonishing Winston - gently - both to wait and to modulate the tone of his criticism. When Winston's decision became irrevocable he wrote a long, remarkably candid explanation to Linky: "To go on like this wavering between opposite courses, feigning friendship to a party where no friendship exists, & loyalty to leaders whose downfall is desired, sickens me." (Letter of 24 October 1903)
After Winston became a Liberal in 1904 - even after Churchill rejoined the Conservatives in 1924 - Linky and Winston sometimes bitterly disagreed on issues. Nonetheless, their friendship withstood time and politics. In August 1908 Linky quickly agreed to be Churchill's best man. Over the years, Churchill repeatedly wrote to Linky with revealing nostalgia, humor, and candor, notably when Churchill lost his premiership in the General Election of 1945, when his brother Jack died in 1947, and when Churchill turned 80.
In December 1940, nearly 35 years after Churchill inscribed these books, Churchill wrote to Linky offering a barony, with humor and good natured teasing testifying that a close association endured. Linky lived to see the end of Winston's second premiership.
Reference: Cohen A17.1, Woods/ICS A8(a), Langworth p.69. Item #001917