London: Macmillan and Company, 1906. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is The Times Book Club binding issue of the first edition of Lord Randolph Churchill.... When the British first edition was published, first edition sheets were acquired from Macmillan by The Times Book Club, slightly trimmed, more plainly bound, and sold at a significantly lower price. This vexed Churchill, who wrote to Macmillan calling this a 'shabby trick' and expressing concern that it might injure sales of the publisher's binding of the first edition. As then, today the publisher's binding is valued higher than The Times Book Club binding, but this is nonetheless a desirable edition and a cost-effective way to obtain original first edition sheets.
Here is a sound, if not particularly pretty, two-volume Times Book Club issue first edition set in slightly better than fair overall condition. The red cloth bindings are tight with wear to extremities, toned and faded spines, general overall scuffing and light soiling, and frayed spine ends with a 1.5 inch split (3.8 cm) split at the Volume I upper rear hinge. Nonetheless shelf appearance is uniform, both volumes equivalent in condition and appearance, the gilt of both spines dulled but still clearly legible. The contents of both volumes remain bright with a stiff, unread feel. Spotting appears primarily confined to the first and final leaves and page edges of each volume. A small, faint moisture stain confined to the blank inner margin affects the upper Volume II page corners spanning pages 103-437. In addition to spotting, the page edges show toning and soiling.
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 A17.3, Woods/ICS A8(aa), Langworth p.72. Item #006451