London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1957. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a pre-publication publisher’s review copy of the third volume of Churchill’s sweeping history and last great work. A 6.75 x 4.5 inches (17 x 11.5 cm) announcement from Cassell is printed on ivory cardstock with an orange nude illustration with the typed title, author, price, and publication date of “14th October 1957” announces “CASSEL and Company Limited have pleasure in sending for review a copy…” and requesting “that no review appears before that date”. A second notice, printed on white Cassell stationery measuring 8 x 5 inches (20 x 12.5 cm) exhorts the reviewer not to print a review prematurely: “…Owing to the particular importance of this book… review copies are being sent out earlier than usual. We should… be grateful if you would ensure that no review appears before publication date.”
The book itself is near fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The red cloth binding is clean, bright, square, and tight with sharp corners and bright spine gilt. The contents remain bright with no previous ownership marks and no spotting. The sole detraction noted is some fading of the red topstain. The dust jacket is complete, with no loss and retaining the original publisher’s price on the lower front flap. We note trivial wear to extremities, light sunning to the spine and an adjacent vertical strip on the rear face, and some light soiling. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Churchill's four volume epic, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, was published between 1956 and 1958. The work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself. The work itself was two decades in the making. The Churchillian conceptions that underpinned it were lifelong.
The cultural commonality and vitality of English-speaking peoples animated Churchill throughout his life, from his Victorian youth in an ascendant British Empire to his twilight in the midst of the American century. Churchill began A History of the English-Speaking Peoples in the 1930s, completing a draft of "about half a million words" which was set aside when Churchill returned to the Admiralty and to war in September 1939. The work was fittingly interrupted by an unprecedented alliance among the English-speaking peoples during the Second World War - an alliance Churchill personally did much to cultivate, cement, and sustain. The interruption continued as Churchill bent his literary efforts to his six-volume history, The Second World War, and then his remaining political energies to his second and final premiership from 1951-1955.
This first edition is regarded as one of the most beautiful productions of Churchill's works, with tall red volumes and striking, illustrated dust jackets. Churchill seems to have taken an active and detailed interest in the aesthetics of the publication. He told his doctor: "it is not necessary to break the back of the book to keep it open. I made them take away a quarter of an inch from the outer margins of the two pages and then add the half-inch so gained to the inner margin." He was clearly satisfied with the result, remarking with pardonable exuberance "It opens like an angel's wings." (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.1184) Unfortunately, as beautiful as the first editions are, they proved somewhat fragile. The dust jackets commonly suffer significant fading, wear, soiling, and spotting, and the books typically bear spotting and fading of the red-stained top edges.
Reference: Cohen A267.1(III).a, Woods/ICS A138(aa), Langworth p.315. Item #004482