London: Library of Imperial History, 1976. First edition. Hardcover. This is Volume II of the Centenary Edition binding of The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill. In 1976, the Library of Imperial History issued The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill as a welcome follow-up to the Collected Works, which included only book-length publications. Both the content and aesthetics of this four-volume set are compelling. The set compiles most of Churchill's major forewords and periodical contributions, some of which can be otherwise found only in the original periodical publications. The essays are sorted by subject and each of the volumes has a theme - Churchill and War, Churchill and Politics, Churchill and People, and Churchill at Large.
This second volume, Churchill and Politics, includes 100 pieces by Churchill, as well as a substantive Introduction by the Editor, Michael Wolff. As Wolff observed in his Introduction, the tally of Churchill’s published books, speeches, and articles, “…only touches the surface of Churchill’s literary industry… he wrote more than 300 essays, a few as prefaces to books, but most of them for newspapers and magazines… the essays are contemporaneous and unvarnished, unpolished by hindsight. There is a freshness and immediacy about them…”
In addition to the virtue of their content, The Collected Essays are aesthetically appealing. The production quality is impressive. The text is printed on special 500-year archival paper and decorated with marbled endpapers, gilt top edge, and head and foot bands. There were two standard binding options for The Collected Essays - both sumptuous. The one offered here (the "Centenary Edition") is quarter blue morocco over blue cloth as opposed to the white vellum in which full sets of the Collected Works were typically bound. As a stand-alone set, the quarter blue morocco binding may be preferred. The binding is both more attractive and more durable than the white vellum, which can age poorly. In either binding, sets of the Collected Essays are scarce. Scarcer still are individual volumes, which we very seldom find offered outside of full sets.
This copy of Volume II is in fine condition. The binding is square, clean, bright, and tight with no discernible wear. The contents are immaculate – crisp and bright with no previous ownership marks. The ribbon marker appears to be unaltered from the original publisher’s placement. The volume feels unread.
Reference: Cohen A286, Woods/ICS A146(b), Langworth p.355. Item #004694