London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1941. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing of the first volume of Churchill's famous war speeches, containing speeches spanning May 1938 to November 1940, the height of appeasement and Churchill’s political isolation to the first six months of his wartime premiership. This is the first printing, first state (identified by Churchill bibliographer Ronald Cohen as missing pagination on pages 78 and 294). Moreover, this copy features the smooth blue cloth (as opposed to coarse cloth) that we have encountered only on first state copies.
This copy is in good plus condition accompanied by a good fourth printing dust jacket, which was issued the month after the first printing, and is externally identical to the first printing jacket, differing only in the content of the front and rear flaps. The blue cloth binding of the first printing, first state volume is tight and respectably bright, though with a modest forward lean and shelf wear to the extremities, including the corners, spine ends, and bottom edges. The contents are bright with a crisp, unread feel. Spotting, endemic to these wartime editions, is light, confined to the fore edges. The sole previous ownership mark is an original, illustrated bookplate of “The Book Society” affixed to the front pastedown with the name space still empty. The fourth printing dust jacket is bright and complete apart from a neatly price-clipped lower front flap and a small loss at the upper rear hinge. Nonetheless there is significant overall scuffing as well as soiling. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Few books are as emblematic of Churchill’s literary and leadership gifts as his war speeches volumes. During his long public life, Winston Churchill played many roles worthy of note - Member of Parliament for more than half a century, soldier and war correspondent, author of scores of books, ardent social reformer, combative cold warrior, Nobel Prize winner, painter. But Churchill's preeminence as a historical figure owes most to his indispensable leadership during the Second World War, when his soaring and defiant oratory sustained his countrymen and inspired the free world. Of Churchill, Edward R. Murrow said: "He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle." When Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, it was partly “…for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”
Between 1941 and 1946, Churchill's war speeches were published in seven individual volumes. The British first editions are visually striking, but were printed on cheap “War Economy Standard” paper, bound in coarse cloth, and wrapped in bright, fragile dust jackets. They proved highly susceptible to spotting, soiling, and fading, so the passage of time has been hard on most surviving first editions. There were twelve printings of the first edition of this first volume, spanning 1941 to 1947. Respectable copies of the first edition, first printing in the first state are becoming increasingly elusive. While certainly not fine, this copy has clearly benefitted from protection by its later printing dust jacket.
Reference: Cohen A142.1.a, Woods/ICS A66(a.1), Langworth p.204. Item #005096