London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, first printing of Churchill's third book of speeches (following Mr. Brodrick's Army and For Free Trade). Liberalism and the Social Problem dates from Churchill's period as an ardent reformer and a dynamic young political force in the Liberal Party. The British first edition is bound in a deep red cloth stamped in gilt on the spine and bearing Churchill's gilt-stamped facsimile signature on the front cover. The binding is attractive, but proved fragile, the smooth, thin cloth susceptible to wear and the spine quite susceptible to toning and dulling.
Condition of this copy is very good overall. The dark red cloth binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners and a nicely rounded spine. The typical spine toning is both moderate and uniform, the spine an even hue with the gilt spine print still bright and clearly legible. Modest wear is confined to extremities, the spine ends wrinkled and incidentally frayed. The covers remain quite bright apart from a faintly toned strip at the upper front cover and a more distinctly toned strip at the upper rear cover. The contents are bright. Spotting appears substantially confined to the endpapers, prelims, and page edges. The sole previous ownership mark is contemporary: “G. Mann | 1909” is inked on the front free endpaper verso.
The book is housed in a handsome quarter Morocco goatskin Solander case, the dark red leather hued complementary to the original binding. The spine features raised bands framed by blind rules, title and author printed compartments with gilt rules, and gilt devices in the unprinted departments. A blind rule transition demarcates the border with the red buckram-covered boards. The interior is felt-lined. Condition of the case is fine, with no appreciable wear or soiling.
In 1904, Churchill quit the Conservative Party and joined the Liberals, beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and be branded a traitor to his class. In 1909, when Liberalism and the Social Problem was published, Churchill, in his mid-30s, had just been promoted to a Cabinet position. His 21 speeches in this volume address a broad range of social issues still topical today, with the young Churchill trying to chart a progressive course between reactionary conservatism and radical socialism. This was a balance the Liberal Party ultimately failed to sustain; Churchill would remain a member of the Liberal Party until their ruinous electoral defeat in the 1922 General Election. Churchill rejoined the Conservatives in 1924.
Reference: Cohen A29.1.a, Woods/ICS A15(a), Langworth p.92. Item #006851