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

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

London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1933. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a remarkably clean full set of four British first edition, first printings in complete first printing dust jackets. We rarely offer sets of this caliber. Winston Churchill's monumental biography of John Churchill, the first Duke of 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." 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 and jacketed first editions are now scarce. Particularly scarce are first printing dust jackets for Volumes I & II. Collectors should be wary of price-clipped dust jackets, as later impression Volume I & II dust jackets state either "2nd Impression" or "3rd Impression" printed next to the price on the lower front flap. No such problem applies to Volumes III & IV, which each had only a single printing.  Additionally, the dust jackets themselves proved quite susceptible to soiling and toning. This full, four-volume British first edition set is scarce thus, featuring fine volumes in near fine, unclipped, first printing dust jackets. The bindings are square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners, gorgeous color, and vivid gilt. A barely noticeable, trivial hint of sunning is confined to a few extreme spine ends where sun snuck past the dust jacket edges. The contents are uniformly bright and crisp. The books feel unread. We find no previous ownership marks. Spotting is confined to half a dozen tiny spots on the Vol. IV fore edge. The page edges of all four volumes are otherwise strikingly clean, with no appreciable toning to the fore and bottom edges and bright gilt to the top edges. The dust jackets are entirely complete, unclipped with no loss and impressive shelf presentation. Though all four jackets show uniform, mild spine toning, notably the particularly fragile gray color on the Vol. I spine is substantially preserved, which we seldom see. We note minor soiling to the blank rear Vol. I panel and some discreet clear tape reinforcement to the Vol. I verso edges. Apart from these small flaws, we note only incidental wear to extremities. All four dust jackets are protected in removable, archival quality clear covers. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A97.2(I-IV).a, Woods/ICS A40(aa); Langworth p.166. Item #005141

Price: $4,350.00

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