Item #007227 The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander. Winston S. Churchill.
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander
The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander

The World Crisis, a magnificent full set of six British first edition, first printings, in dust jackets, each volume housed in a quarter-Morocco Solander

London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1923 - 1931. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a magnificent, jacketed, six-volume British first edition, first printing set of Winston Churchill’s history of the First World War, in which he played such a critical, controversial, and varied role.

Many consider this British edition of The World Crisis aesthetically superior to its American counterpart, with its larger volumes and shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. Unfortunately, the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear and blistering, and the contents prone to spotting and toning. When the books are protected by their original dust jackets, of course they tend to fare better, but that is seldom the case; when these volumes were published, between 1923 and 1931, booksellers often discarded the dust jackets. Even those spared by booksellers often did not survive.

Full sets thus, in dust jackets, are an elusive prize. But this particular set is the very best we have ever offered, featuring fine volumes in extraordinarily bright, clean, and complete dust jackets.

The 1911-1914 jacket is the first issue, with a blank rear face that does not advertise subsequent volumes in the series. The greenish-blue paper retains its distinctive hue and the jacket shows only fractional loss at the upper front joint and upper flap fold corners. Light overall soiling and minor shelf wear to extremities are more than compensated by the jacket’s color and completeness. The 1915 jacket is bright and complete apart from fractional loss to the lower rear flap, with no discernible toning, light overall soiling including a faint stain to the upper front joint, and mild wear mostly confined to the bottom edges. The 1916-1918 first jackets present a special problem, as the paper used for the first printing jackets proved particularly brittle, leading the surviving jackets to commonly tone, split, and fragment. This pair is remarkably bright, clean, and complete. The Part I jacket shows only fractional loss to extremities, despite splits to the joints and rear flap fold. The Part II jacket is magnificent, the only fractional loss confined to the flap fold splits, the faces and spine not only still attached to one another, but entirely complete. The Aftermath jacket, is not only entirely complete and strikingly clean, but retains its distinctive greenish yellow hue, with only the mildest, uniform spine toning and light wear to extremities. The exceptionally scarce The Eastern Front jacket, like those of the 1916-1918 volumes, proved exceptionally brittle. This example is the best we’ve encountered, with only three tiny chips, respectively to the spine head and the upper and lower edges of the front face. The jacket faces and flaps retain the yellowish-green hue, the jacket spine is only slightly and uniformly toned, and the red print remains bright. All six dust jackets are fitted with clear, removable, archival covers.

All six bindings are tight and square, bright and clean as only jacketed copies can be, with vivid spine gilt, sharp corners, and almost none of the typical scuffing to the handsome but wear-prone smooth navy cloth. Spotting, endemic to the edition, is vanishingly light and almost entirely confined to the text block edges. Differential toning to the endpapers of all six volumes corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms what the lovely bindings already testify – that each of these six volumes has spent life jacketed. We find no previous ownership marks anywhere in the set and the only inked name is that of the author – a cut signature of “Winston S. Churchill” tipped onto the front free endpaper recto of The Eastern Front. As evidenced by transfer browning to the adjacent half-title, this signature has long been within the book.

Each volume is housed in its own quarter Morocco Solander case. Each case features an arched, dark tan goatskin spine with raised bands that are blind-hatched and framed with blind rules, twin green and red Morocco spine labels, each gilt ruled and stamped, and “London” and the published date of each volume gilt-stamped at the spine heel. Each green spine label features the volume title and subtitle, while each red label features the author “Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill”. The Solander sides are tan cloth and the interior of each case is lined in white felt. Condition of the cases is near fine.

Churchill was in a special position to write the history of the First World War, which nearly cost him both his political and corporeal lives. In October 1911, aged 36, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He entered the post with the brief to change war strategy and ensure the readiness of the world’s most powerful navy. He did both. Even Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener, with whom Churchill had been variously at odds for nearly two decades, told Churchill on his final day as First Lord “Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready." (The World Crisis: 1915, p.391) Nonetheless, when Churchill advocated successfully for a naval campaign in the Dardanelles that ultimately proved disastrous, a convergence of factors sealed his political fate. Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign, leaving the Admiralty in May 1915.

Years later, Churchill’s wife, Clementine, recalled to Churchill’s official biographer “I thought he would never get over the Dardanelles; I thought he would die of grief.” (Gilbert, Vol. III, p.473) By November, Churchill resigned even his nominal Cabinet posts to spend the rest of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches at the Front. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience two decades later leading up to the Second World War. Despite Churchill's political recovery, the stigma of the Dardanelles lingered. Hence Churchill had more than just literary and financial compulsion to write his history.

Nearly a quarter of a century after he was forced to resign from the Admiralty and nearly a decade after he published the sixth and final volume of The World Crisis, Churchill famously returned to the Admiralty in September 1939, the position from which he would ascend to his storied wartime premiership in May 1940.

Reference: Cohen A69.2(I).b, (II).a, (III-1&2).a, (IV).b, (V).a; Woods/ICS A31(ab); Langworth p.105. Item #007227

Price: $20,000.00

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