Hopkinton, New Hampshire: Dragonwyck Publishing, 1990. First U.S. edition. Hardcover. This compelling presentation copy of the first U.S. edition, only printing is inscribed by the publisher to Churchill’s official biographer. The inscription, inked in ten lines on the front free endpaper, reads “Inscribed to | Martin Gilbert | from the Publisher | (a would-be Thornton-Butterworth) | With best personal regards, | and to convey the good wishes | of Manfred Weidhorn | - and the author. | Boston 16.11.91 | Richard Langworth” Condition is fine in a near fine dust jacket. The inscribed volume is immaculate inside and out, essentially as-new with no reportable wear, soiling, or flaws. The dust jacket is crisp and complete with no wear, marred only by typical sunning of the orange spine. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
First published in 1931 (by Thornton Butterworth, to whom the inscription refers), India is a collection of 10 speeches by Churchill as part of his campaign against the India Bill, over which he broke with his party’s leadership. Though his cause was lost, these speeches are considered to contain some of the finest examples of Churchill's rhetorical brilliance. This is one of the few Churchill titles for which there was no concurrent U.S. edition. The 1931 British first edition is most commonly found in orange paper wraps. A much rarer variant was issued in a hardcover binding. The binding of this U.S. first edition of 1990 is a close reproduction of the hardcover variant of the British first edition. The contents add a substantive new foreword by Manfred Weidhorn (referred to in the inscription). The original text is bracketed within by reproductions of the original orange wraps. Unfortunately the remaining stock of this excellent reproduction was destroyed by fire and there are no other such modern reprints.
The inscription in this copy certainly renders it the most compelling copy we have encountered. The life and achievements of the publisher, Richard M. Langworth CBE (b.1941), are entwined with service to Churchill’s memory and legacy. Among his accomplishments, Richard revived the Churchill Society, edited 140 issues of the Churchill Society’s quarterly publication Finest Hour, was a Churchill-specialist bookseller, and authored A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill and five books of Churchill quotations. In 1998, Richard was awarded by Her Majesty the Queen with a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) “for services to Anglo-American understanding and the memory of Sir Winston Churchill.”
The recipient of this presentation copy, eminent historian Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015), was most noted for his mammoth official biography of Sir Winston Churchill. In 1962, Gilbert was a twenty-five-year-old Oxford graduate student when he joined Winston Churchill’s official biography team, then led by Churchill’s son, Randolph. “I’d thought I’d last four or five months.” Instead, when Randolph died in 1968 with only two volumes completed and fifty-one momentous years of Churchill’s life remaining to be written, Gilbert took over. He went on to commit a substantial portion of his scholarship and life’s work to documenting, comprehending, and communicating what Gilbert called the “remarkable and versatile life” of Winston Churchill.
Churchill spent formative time as a young 19th century cavalry officer fighting on the northwest Indian frontier, about which he would write his first published book. He certainly did not adopt an early progressive attitude toward relinquishing control over the crown jewel of Britain's colonial empire. Nonetheless, it is instructive to remember that many of Churchill's dire warnings about Indian independence proved prophetic. Churchill had warned that too swift a British withdrawal from India would lead to bloody civil war and sectarian strife between Hindus and Muslims, Hindu domination, and destabilizing political balkanization of the subcontinent. All came to pass. Many persist.
Reference: Cohen A92.2.b, Woods/ICS A38(b), Langworth p.152. Item #005929