Item #006988 Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV. Winston S. Churchill.
Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV
Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV
Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV
Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV
Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV

Marlborough: His Life and Times, Volume IV

London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., 1938. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, only printing of the fourth and final volume of Churchill's Marlborough - a premium copy suitable for filling a superior first edition set. This final volume covers the years 1708 to 1722, chronicling the decline of Marlborough and the apparent frustration of his work. It is a substantial 671 pages with 24 illustrations, 39 maps and plans, and 1 document facsimile. This British first trade edition is a physically impressive production. Each volume measures 9.25 x 6.25 inches (23.5 x 15.9 cm) and is roughly 2 inches thick (5 cm). Each is bound in plum cloth with beveled edges, the Marlborough coat of arms in gilt on the front cover, and a gilt top edge. Moreover, each volume is profusely illustrated.

Condition of this first edition, only printing of Volume IV is near fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The plum cloth binding is square, clean, tight, and beautifully bright, with vivid gilt and only trivial shelf wear to extremities. The contents are likewise strikingly bright with a crisp, unread feel. We find no previous ownership marks. The top edge gilt is uniformly bright. Only the fore and bottom edges show mild age toning and just a trivial hint of spotting. The dust jacket is complete, with an unclipped lower front flap and no appreciable loss. The upper spine shows a tiny closed tear and wrinkling, substantially confined to the maroon border, the spine is lightly and uniformly toned, and there is a vertical crease to the upper half of the rear panel adjacent to the joint. The front and rear faces remain bright. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.

Marlborough was initially conceived a full 40 years before publication of the final volume. Churchill originally considered the idea of the biography in 1898, returning to it in earnest in 1928. Marlborough ultimately took 10 years of research and writing and is the most substantial published work of Churchill's "wilderness years" in the 1930s, which he spent politically isolated, often at odds with both his own party and prevailing public sentiment. This decade saw Churchill pass into his sixties with his own future as uncertain as that of his nation. It is perhaps not incidental that Churchill’s great work of the 1930s was about a great ancestor. Churchill may have wondered more than once if the life history he was writing might ultimately eclipse his own. Richard Langworth says "To understand the Churchill of the Second World War, the majestic blending of his commanding English with historical precedent, one has to read Marlborough.”

Few would accuse Churchill of objectivity. Nonetheless, as a work of history it drew high praise. Upon reading the proofs, James Lewis Garvin, editor of The Observer, wrote “I think it to be… the greatest of all your works… Your full brush has never had more mastery over space and colour…” Two months after Volume I was published, on 12 December 1933, T.E. Lawrence wrote to Churchill: “I finished it only yesterday. I wish I had not… The skeleton of the book is so good. Its parts balance and the main stream flows… Marlborough has the big scene-painting, the informed pictures of men, the sober comment on political method, the humour, irony and understanding of your normal writing: but beyond that it shows more discipline and strength: and great dignity. It is history, solemn and decorative.” When Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, it was partly for “mastery of historical and biographical description” on the strength of Marlborough, which was specifically cited and quoted by the Swedish Academy.

This fourth and final volume was published almost exactly one year before the outbreak of the Second World War and Churchill’s return to the Cabinet to reprise his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty. Twenty months after this final volume was published Churchill became wartime prime minister.

Reference: Cohen A97.2(IV).a, Woods/ICS A40(aa), Langworth p.166. Item #006988

Price: $800.00

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