London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1956. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the British first edition, first printing of the second volume of Churchill’s sweeping history and last great work, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Rending this copy special is the elaborately illustrated and hand-numbered bookplate affixed to the front pastedown testifying that “This is number 30 of one hundred copies which were carried from the Old World to the New World in Mayflower II.” The story is an interesting convergence of history, literature, and publisher promotion.
Volume II of Churchill’s history is subtitled The New World. Spanning 1485 to 1688, it covers the period during which “The New World of the American continent was discovered and settled by European adventure.” The volume’s 1956 publication aligned fortuitously with another recollection of the Old World’s engagement of the New – the improbable journey of the Mayflower II. Reportedly in 1942, WWII veteran Warwick Charlton (1918-2002) - who served during the Second World War on Montgomery's staff - conceived the idea of building an exact replica of the Mayflower and sailing her across the Atlantic as a gift to the United States. After the War, Charlton resumed a career in journalism, but he also engaged an expert shipbuilder in Devon and persuaded a few hundred industrial, commercial, and individual sponsors in Britain, as well as the Mayflower Trucking Company in America, to finance his ship-building project. The ship set sail from Brixham on 20 April 1957.
No British leader was more emblematic of Anglo-American comity than Churchill, and no work of his was better suited to the undertaking than Volume II of his A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Hence 100 copies undertook the voyage with Charlton aboard Mayflower II. After a voyage of 54 days, Mayflower II arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it was greeted by Vice President Richard Nixon and then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. The ship continues to reside in Massachusetts, where it began an extensive restoration in 2016 in advance of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth.
Not unlike Mayflower II, Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples was grand in conception. And it took even longer to come to fruition. Over the course of four volumes published between 1956 and 1958, the work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. The work was two decades in the making. Churchill began A History of the English-Speaking Peoples in the 1930s, completing a draft of "about half a million words", which was set aside when Churchill returned to the Admiralty and to war in September 1939. The work was fittingly interrupted by an unprecedented alliance among the English-speaking peoples during the Second World War - an alliance Churchill personally did much to cultivate, cement, and sustain. The interruption continued as Churchill bent his literary efforts to his six-volume history, The Second World War, and then his remaining political energies to his second and final premiership from 1951-1955.
This first edition, first printing of Volume II is near fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The red cloth binding is square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners and only minor shelf wear to extremities. The contents show no spotting, no previous ownership marks, clean page edges, and strong, only mildly sunned red topstain. The elaborately illustrated and hand-numbered Mayflower II bookplate affixed to the front pastedown is clean and bright, marred only by mild browning at the edges from the glue used to affix it. The dust jacket is complete, mildly spine-toned with light wear to extremities. The jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Reference: Cohen A267.1(II).a, Woods/ICS A138(aa), Langworth p.315. Item #006073