London: The Educational Book Company, Ltd., 1956. Chartwell (First Illustrated) Edition. Hardcover. This is a full, four-volume set of the first illustrated edition, which was published contemporaneously with the first edition and is known as "The Chartwell Edition." This is a particularly handsome edition of Churchill’s sweeping history and last great work. This edition is not only profusely illustrated, but is also attractively bound in heavy blue buckram with red leather spine labels blocked in gilt, gilt ruled spine compartments, gilt volume title and vertical rule on each front cover, head and foot bands, and blue topstain.
This set is in very good condition, exceptional overall with superior shelf presentation, but with one conspicuous aesthetic flaw that leads us to downgrade overall condition to only very good. The bindings are square, tight, and vividly bright with sharp corners and only light scuffing and shelf wear. Shelf presentation is quite good indeed; the red leather spine labels are bright and fully intact, the blue spine color uniform. The chief detraction is a horizontal row of five circular spots of slight superficial delamination and discoloration across the lower front cover of Volume I. Without this defect, we would grade the set as near fine. The contents are clean with a crisp, unread feel, no previous ownership marks, and no spotting. The blue top edges remain uniformly dark - both clean and unfaded - across all four volumes. Each volume is protected with a clear, removable mylar cover.
Churchill's four-volume epic, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, was 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. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself. The work itself was two decades in the making. The Churchillian conceptions that underpinned it were lifelong. The cultural commonality and vitality of English-speaking peoples animated Churchill throughout his life, from his Victorian youth in an ascendant British Empire to his twilight in the midst of the American century.
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. Please anticipate that this substantial, heavy set may require additional postage.
Reference: Cohen A267.2, Woods/ICS A138(d). Langworth p.317. Item #006810