London: Macmillan and Company, 1906. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is a superior, unread and exceptionally clean first edition set of Winston Churchill's biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. The first edition, only printing, is aesthetically pleasing, featuring deep red cloth, untrimmed page edges, gilt stamping, and the family coat of arms in gilt on the front covers. However, the red cloth binding of this edition proved quite susceptible to fading and wear and the contents to heavy spotting. First edition sets are not especially uncommon, but collector worthy sets are elusive. Sets of this caliber are quite scarce indeed.
This set is compellingly clean and bright inside and out, near fine and about as good as we ever encounter. The contents of each volume are immaculate, improbably bright, clean, and crisp. We find no spotting, no previous ownership marks, and no age-toning. Clearly, both volumes are unread, as both volumes have as-yet uncut signatures throughout. The only blemish to the contents is transfer browning to the endpapers from the pastedown glue. The untrimmed fore and bottom edges remain likewise clean, the top edges only very lightly dust soiled. The bindings are nearly as exceptional as the contents, each square, tight, clean, and bright with sharp corners and only trivial shelf wear confined to extremities. Shelf appearance is impressive, the spines are only slightly and uniformly toned, the spine gilt still bright.
Each volume is housed in its own full goatskin Morocco Solander case. The dark red Morocco leather defers to the hue of the original bindings. Each case features rounded, hubbed spines, the spine bands gilt rule framed and gilt decorated, the covers with gilt rule borders, the interior lined with red felt. Condition of each case is as-new, with no reportable wear, soiling, blemishes, or fading.
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 A17.1, Woods A8(a), Langworth p.69. Item #006837