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 an excellent full set of four British first edition, first printings in first printing dust jackets. We are seldom able to assemble 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. We caution collectors to 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 highly susceptible to soiling and toning. This full, four-volume British first edition set is scarce thus, featuring near fine or better first printing volumes in near fine, unclipped, first printing dust jackets. The bindings are square, clean, bright, and tight, retaining strong spine color throughout the set as only jacketed copies do. The contents are uniformly bright and crisp. Spotting is remarkably light for the edition, confined to the Volume II & III fore edges. The gilt top edges remain bright. The fore edges show various degrees of age-toning, but no soiling. The sole previous ownership mark is a 1935 Christmas gift inscription on the Volume II front free endpaper. The dust jackets are highly complete with quite impressive shelf presentation. Notably, the Volume I dust jacket retains some of the original gray color on the spine with only minor toning, which we seldom see, and the Volume IV jacket spine retains a bright greenish-blue hue. All four dust jackets show only trivial loss at the spine heads and minor wear to extremities, with a little wrinkling of the Volume I spine. 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 #005164

Price: $4,000.00

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