London: Macmillan and Company, 1906. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. Churchill's first biographic work concentrates on Lord Randolph's career in Parliament after 1880. Lord Randolph died in January 1895 at age 45 following the spectacular collapse of both his health and political career. His son Winston was 20 years old. When he first contemplated writing his father's biography Winston Churchill was still an itinerant soldier and war correspondent who had yet to write his first book. The son still dwelt very much in his father's shadow, both emotionally and in terms of the political career to which he already aspired.
By the time the work was published in 1906, the young Winston Churchill already had half a dozen books to his credit and half a decade in Parliament. By 1906 Churchill had already left his father's political party, prevailed in the same political battle that had terminated his father's career, and was just two years from his first Cabinet post. Churchill was criticized by some reviewers for overplaying his father's accomplishments. Nonetheless, the work was well received both as a frank portrayal of Randolph's extremes and as a showcase for the son's literary talent.
The first edition is aesthetically pleasing, featuring deep red cloth, untrimmed page edges, gilt stamping, and the family coat of arms on the front covers. However, the red cloth binding of this edition proved quite susceptible to fading and wear. Here is a good set. The red cloth bindings remain square and tight, with minor wear to extremities. Spine presentation is better than usual, with some of the typical sunning, but still retaining bright gilt and respectable red color, with only some minor stains to the lower spines and a little wrinkling to the spine ends. Of note, spine appearance and overall binding condition is uniform, indicating that this is an original, mated pair.
The contents remain quite bright with spotting light for the edition, substantially confined to the first and final leaves and untrimmed page edges. The same previous owner's decorative bookplate is affixed both front free endpapers and a different owner name (the same in both volumes) written in pencil on the second blank endsheet of Volume I and the first free endpaper of Volume II. The Volume I pastedown bears the decorative bookplate of the British colonial civil servant Sir Robert Benson Ewbank (1883-1967). The Volume I first free endpaper facing Sir Ewbank's bookplate features a five line inked gift inscription to him thus: "To Sir Robert Ewbank. | Who has always been such a | very kind friend to my Stepmother Josephine | Eleanor Calthrop | November 27.1960."
Reference: Cohen A17.1, Woods/ICS A8(a), Langworth p.69. Item #003378