London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, first printing of Churchill's third book of speeches (following Mr. Brodrick's Army and For Free Trade). Liberalism and the Social Problem dates from Churchill's period as an ardent reformer and a dynamic young political force in the Liberal Party. The British first edition is bound in a deep red cloth stamped in gilt on the spine and bearing Churchill's gilt-stamped facsimile signature on the front cover. The binding is attractive, but proved fragile, the smooth, thin cloth susceptible to wear and the spine quite susceptible to toning and dulling.
Condition of this copy approaches very good. The dark red cloth binding is square and tight, respectable despite typical toning of the spine. Wear is modest, primarily confined to extremities, including wrinkling at the spine ends. The contents are bright internally, spotting only light and occasional, primarily confined to pastedowns, prelims, and the otherwise clean page edges. Previous ownership marks are a small, decorative bookplate affixed to the front pastedown and a name in faded ink on the facing front free endpaper recto dated “3/2/11” just above an inked number “1152” – ostensibly a previous owner’s personal library reference. The binding is protected with a clear, removable mylar cover.
In 1904, Churchill quit the Conservative Party and joined the Liberals, beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and be branded a traitor to his class. In 1909, when Liberalism and the Social Problem was published, Churchill, in his mid-30s, had just been promoted to a Cabinet position. His 21 speeches in this volume address a broad range of social issues still topical today, with the young Churchill trying to chart a progressive course between reactionary conservatism and radical socialism. This was a balance the Liberal Party ultimately failed to sustain; Churchill would remain a member of the Liberal Party until their ruinous electoral defeat in the 1922 General Election. Churchill rejoined the Conservatives in 1924.
Reference: Cohen A29.1.a, Woods/ICS A15(a), Langworth p.92. Item #006039