Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings
Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings
Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings
Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings

Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings

London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1933. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a full set of four British first edition, first printings of Winston Churchill's monumental biography of his great ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. The first edition is a physically impressive production. The books measure 9.25 x 6.25 inches and are roughly 2 inches thick. Each is bound in plum cloth with beveled edges, the Marlborough coat of arms gilt on the front cover, and a gilt top edge. Moreover, each volume is profusely illustrated. Unfortunately, the plum cloth binding of Volumes I-III proved highly susceptible to sun fading. (A different, more fade-resistant dye was used in Volume IV.) Without the dust jackets, Volumes I-III are nearly always spine faded. This full, four-volume British first edition set is very good overall. The original cloth bindings remain tight and the contents crisp. Spotting is moderate for the edition, primarily confined to prelims and page edges. The top edge gilt remains bright. The sole previous ownership mark we find is an inked name dated “1938” on the Volume IV front free endpaper verso. Shelf presentation is better than most unjacketed sets, with Volumes I-III sunned, but evenly so and still retaining distinct plum color. The Volumes I & II bindings are quite clean and square with sharp corners and no appreciable wear. The Volume III & IV bindings both have a slight forward lean and light wear to extremities, the Volume III rear cover a bit scuffed, Volume IV with some discoloration spots – likely due to moisture drops – on the front and rear covers. Marlborough was initially conceived a full 40 years before publication of the final volume. Churchill originally considered the idea of the biography in 1898, returning to it in earnest in 1928. Marlborough ultimately took 10 years of research and writing and is the most substantial published work of Churchill's "wilderness years" in the 1930s. This decade saw Churchill pass into his sixties with his own future as uncertain as that of his nation. It is perhaps not incidental that Churchill’s great work of the 1930s was about a great ancestor. Churchill may have wondered more than once if the life history he was writing might ultimately eclipse his own. Richard Langworth says "To understand the Churchill of the Second World War, the majestic blending of his commanding English with historical precedent, one has to read Marlborough." The work was well received. Two months after Volume I was published, on 12 December 1933, T.E. Lawrence wrote to Churchill: “I finished it only yesterday. I wish I had not… The skeleton of the book is so good. Its parts balance and the main stream flows… Marlborough has the big scene-painting, the informed pictures of men, the sober comment on political method, the humour, irony and understanding of your normal writing: but beyond that it shows more discipline and strength: and great dignity. It is history, solemn and decorative." Bibliographic reference: Cohen A97.2(I-IV).a, Woods/ICS A40(aa); Langworth p.166. Item #005073

Price: $450.00

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