London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1951. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This first edition, first printing of the fourth volume of Churchill’s history of the Second World War is noteworthy - a working copy from the publisher’s archives, stamped “Editorial” on the front free endpaper and top edge. This copy features 55 handwritten emendations and resided in Cassell’s editorial department until at least 25 May 1977, when it was used for the edition referred to as “4th 3rd”. (A misnomer that likely refers to a later printing of the second British edition. See Cohen A240.4(IV).f.)
The original black cloth is surprisingly clean for a publisher’s working copy, the binding square, the spine gilt bright, the corners sharp, and the page edges clean save the “Editorial” stamp on the top edge. A cosmetic split to the endpapers at the front gutter exposes the intact mull beneath and does not affect binding integrity. The contents are free of toning and spotting. Accompanying are 14 oversized, single sided galley sheets measuring 25.125 x 7.125 inches (63.8 x 18.1 cm). The top of one sheet reads: “30231 Second World War Vol. 4 Galley A1”. We also include a loose copyright page with corrections for the “Fourth edition, third impression August 1977”.
When Cassell secured publication rights to Churchill’s war memoirs, it was “perhaps the greatest coup of twentieth century publishing.” Nonetheless, the volumes were published with both stylistic and substantive flaws, as evidenced by the number of corrections made by Cassell staff in this publisher’s copy of the fourth volume. We confirmed that these corrections, ranging from simple letter case corrections to reworded sentences, were incorporated into later printings and editions.
One particular edit merits a highlight. At page 416 a typewritten sheet is laid in bearing additional copy for a footnote added in later editions. The story of this footnote involves a Second World War General fired by Churchill. Eric Edward Dorman-Smith (1895-1969) served in WWI with such distinction (awarded the Military Cross for his efforts in the trenches of Ypres) that his friend Ernest Hemingway later fictionalized him as the hero of Across the River and Into the Trees. In WWII Dorman-Smith’s tactical advice played a key role in Italy’s defeat at Beda Fomm. In 1942 Auchinleck assumed command of the Eighth Army, and Dorman-Smith was promoted to acting major-general. Three months later in August 1942 Winston Churchill ordered a complete restructuring of the Middle East command. Montgomery replaced Auchinleck and Dorman-Smith was given command of a brigade in Italy before being dismissed and involuntarily retiring in 1944. Disgraced and disillusioned, Dorman-Smith returned to his home in Ireland and changed his name to O’Gowan. He would implausibly transition from British General to Irish nationalist and IRA supporter. In 1953 O’Gowan’s solicitor sent a letter to 10 Downing Street claiming that the Prime Minister’s book The Hinge of Fate was libelous and made “very grave charges that our client was incompetent and perhaps worse and that he was fired for incompetency.” Churchill’s offense was mentioning “General Dorman-Smith to be relieved a Deputy C.G.S.” in the general context of “disasters… in the Western Desert…” O’Gowan né Dorman-Smith apparently employed his lawyers “all over the place, sent out for everything from slight disappointments in newspaper articles, to local affairs, such as destruction of heritage sites and water pollution in Cootehill.” Nonetheless, defending a libel case might require making sensitive documents public. The trial never went to court; in early 1954 O’Gowan suddenly backed down from his demands. O’Gowan’s biographer claimed Churchill’s advisor called on O’Gowan’s sense of chivalry by informing him of the Prime Minister’s stroke in 1953 and warning that the affair may cause a second, fatal stroke. The matter was settled by the inclusion of a footnote in future editions of the book - the typed manuscript of which is laid in this volume. Item #004605