New York: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1906. First U.S. edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the first U.S. edition, only printing, of Winston Churchill’s 1906 biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. This U.S. edition is visually similar but aesthetically superior to its British counterpart, having gilt top page edges and a lightly scored cloth binding.
This set is is in fair overall condition, complete but externally unlovely with a number of flaws that lead us to be conservative in both grading condition and pricing. The original scored red cloth bindings show shelf wear to extremities. The spines are uniformly dulled, the cloth dimpled, scuffed, and frayed at the spine ends. The contents are respectably bright and clean for the edition with no spotting, good top edge gilt, and clean fore and bottom edges that show only mild age-toning. These virtues are offset by a cosmetic split to the endpapers at the Volume I rear gutter and a more serious partial separation at the Volume II gutter preceding the half title. There are two penciled previous owner names – same surname with different initials, dated respectively "1913” and “1921” on the Volume I front pastedown, as well as a personal library shelf reference. The Volume II pastedown has a number of page references, also in pencil.
Winston Churchill’s biography of his father focuses on Lord Randolph's career in Parliament after 1880. Lord Randolph died in January 1895 at age 45 following the spectacular collapse of both his health and political career. Winston was 20 years old. When he first contemplated writing his father's biography Winston Churchill was an itinerant soldier and war correspondent who had yet to write his first book. The son still dwelt very much in his father's shadow, both emotionally and in terms of the political career to which he already aspired.
By the time Lord Randolph Churchill was published in 1906, the young Winston Churchill already had half a dozen books to his credit and half a decade in Parliament. By 1906 Churchill had already left his father's political party, prevailed in the same political battle that had terminated his father's career, and was just two years from his first Cabinet post. Nonetheless, that Churchill would be selected as biographer by Lord Randolph's executors was not a foregone conclusion. Churchill first entertained the idea soon after his father's death, but it was not until late in 1902 that he was appointed.
Churchill then spent two and a half years researching and writing. We can assume that it was not only a major literary effort, but an emotional one as well. Of the work, Churchill wrote to Lord Rosebery on 11 September 1902 "It is all most interesting to me - and melancholy too" (R. Churchill, Companion Volume II, Part 1, p.438). Churchill was criticized by some reviewers for overplaying his father's accomplishments. Nonetheless, the work was well received both as a frank portrayal of Randolph's extremes and as a showcase for the son's literary talent.
Reference: Cohen A17.2, Woods/ICS A8(ab), Langworth p.71. Item #006420