New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1956. First U.S. edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a full, four-volume, jacketed, U.S. first edition set of Churchill's sweeping history and last great work. This U.S. first edition is not to be confused with the similar-looking Book-of-the-Month-Club (BOMC) edition and is less common than its British counterpart, particularly thus; this set features truly fine volumes in very good plus or better dust jackets, the set housed in a custom slipcase.
The bindings are pristine – square, tight, and immaculately clean with bright gilt and no reportable wear. The contents are likewise immaculately clean. We find no instances of spotting or previous ownership marks. The red-stained top edges retain uniform, unfaded color across the set. Even the untrimmed fore edges are unblemished. The set looks and feels unread. “FIRST EDITION” is helpfully and unequivocally printed on each copyright page.
All four dust jackets feature intact “$6.00” front flap prices, clearly denoting first edition rather than BOMC dust jackets. Nearly all first edition dust jackets suffer considerable spine fading, particularly affecting the red background color of Volume I and the red spine subtitle panels of Volumes II-IV. In this case, red spine sections of Volumes I and II are only minimally toned, retaining unusually good color, and the Volume III & IV jackets are entirely unfaded. Moreover, the jackets are complete apart from fractional chipping to the Volume I spine ends and Volume III spine heel. Overall, the jackets show only light wear, primarily confined to hinges and extremities. Only the white Volume II jacket shows any appreciable soiling, and even that is quite light. All four dust jackets are newly fitted with clear, removable, archival covers.
The set is housed in a rigid, black cloth-covered slipcase. Spanning the back of the slipcase is a large, red Morocco goatskin label framed at the top and bottom by decorative gilt borders and printed in three lines: “A HISTORY OF THE | ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLES | WINSTON S. CHURCHILL”. Condition of the slipcase is pristine.
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.
Reference: Cohen A267.3(I-IV).a, Woods/ICS A138(ab), Langworth p.318. Item #006829