London: Macmillan and Company Limited, 1907. First one-volume edition. Hardcover. This is the 1907 first one-volume unabridged edition of Winston Churchill’s biography of his father. The British first edition was published in two volumes in 1906. In 1907, the publisher issued this one-volume edition, containing the full text of the two volume work as originally published in 1906, but printed on thinner paper. The binding closely resembles the first edition of just a year earlier.
Condition approaches very good. The red cloth binding is square and tight with an unusually bright spine and gilt. Light wear is primarily confined to extremities with tiny bumps to the lower corners and light scuffing and soiling to the boards. The contents are respectably bright. Spotting is conspicuous only on the frontispiece, otherwise light and substantially confined to the pastedowns. The front free endpaper features an inked previous owner name “Robert H. Wallace | Harrogate | 1911”. The date and location are echoed in three lines on the half title: “Harrogate | October 1911 | . RHW . CWW . G.C.W.” The gilt top edge is somewhat dulled and scuffed, the fore and bottom edges modestly age-toned and soiled. We find some margin notation in erasable pencil at pages 475 and 478-79.
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 A17.4, Woods/ICS A8(b), Langworth p.74. Item #006450