London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1945. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is an inscribed presentation copy of the first edition, first printing of the fifth volume of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill’s war speeches, The Dawn of Liberation, which was published on 26 July 1945, Churchill’s final day as wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain. This copy is inscribed and dated by Churchill in 1945 and was owned by his Private Secretary and unauthorized chronicler of 10 Downing Street, Sir John “Jock” Colville. The inscription, inked in three lines on the front free endpaper recto, reads: “From | Winston S. Churchill | 1945”. Colville’s bookplate, featuring his coat of arms, printed name, and motto “OBLIER NE PUIS”, is affixed to the front pastedown, opposite Churchill’s inscription.
Condition of this inscribed, wartime presentation copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners, clearly legible spine gilt, and only trivial shelf wear to joints and extremities. The contents are uncommonly clean for the edition, only mildly age-toned and with minimal spotting that appears confined to the first and final leaves and page edges. The top edge of the text block is lightly dust soiled. The sole ownership mark is Jock Colville’s bookplate.
The first printing dust jacket is bright and unclipped, retaining the original front flap price. The jacket is also bright, retaining its vivid spine and front face hues, and effectively complete, with only fractional loss to the upper front joint and three flap fold corners. Modest soiling shows to the white rear face. The front face and spine show some superficial scuffing and a short closed tear to the bottom edge of the front face. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
The book is housed in a full blue Morocco goatskin Solander case featuring raised, gilt-framed spine bands, two dark blue spine labels, and gilt rule-framed covers, the interior lined with marbled paper. The Solander is in flawless, new condition.
The Second World War was only a month old when, on 3 October 1939, a brilliant 24-year-old civil servant in the Foreign Office was appointed Assistant Private Secretary to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Seven months later, when wartime leadership famously passed to Winston Churchill, Sir John Rupert Colville (1915-1987) began working for Churchill. Colville would remain “almost constantly at Winston’s side” for the majority of Churchill’s two premierships (May 1940-July 1945 and October 1951-April 1955).
Colville’s 10 Downing Street service to Churchill was interrupted only by Colville’s active service as an RAF pilot between October 1941 and December 1943. Apart from Colville’s official contributions to history, we are obliged to him for his defiance; although it was forbidden under wartime regulations, Colville kept meticulous diaries that he locked nightly into his 10 Downing Street desk. Significant excerpts from this diary were eventually published in 1985, self-deprecatingly titled The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955. Colville’s diaries continue, even now, to illuminate Churchill’s wartime leadership. Most recently, New York Times bestselling author Eric Larson relied heavily on Colville’s diaries in writing The Splendid and the Vile (2020), his novelized take on the first year of Churchill’s wartime Premiership.
Colville’s compulsive will to write, his position at the epicenter of action, Churchill’s deep confidence in him, and his keen and discerning intellect render Colville’s diaries a significant contribution to the known history of Churchill and his time. In the interwar years, Colville served as Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II (while she was still Princess Elizabeth) and married one of her ladies-in-waiting. Colville raised funds for the establishment of Churchill College, Cambridge (where his diaries now reside), and was eventually a trustee of both Winston’s and Lady Churchill’s estates.
Colville was knighted in 1974, having previously been awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1955, and the Companion of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1949.
Few books are as emblematic of Winston Churchill’s literary and leadership gifts as his war speeches volumes. During the Second World War, his soaring and defiant oratory sustained his countrymen and inspired the free world. Of Churchill, Edward R. Murrow said: "He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle." When Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, it was partly “…for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”
Between 1941 and 1946, Churchill's war speeches were published in seven individual volumes. The British first editions are visually striking, but were printed on cheap “War Economy Standard” paper, bound in coarse cloth, and wrapped in bright, fragile dust jackets. They proved highly susceptible to spotting, soiling, and fading, so the passage of time has been hard on most surviving first editions.
This fifth volume of Churchill's war speeches contains Churchill's speeches, broadcasts, messages, statements, and letters made, sent, and issued between 22 February and 31 December 1944. A full and momentous year, 1944 included the Normandy invasion, the largest amphibious operation in history, which re-established the Allied military presence in German-occupied Europe. While much fighting was yet to come and the war was not yet over, as 1944 drew to a close the suspended tensions of domestic politics as well as the complex jockeying for postwar spoils among allies intruded ever more urgently on a unified war effort. Churchill would be unable to hold the many political fractures and frustrations at bay for much longer. Indeed, the very day this British first edition of The Dawn of Liberation was published (26 July 1945) Churchill formally conceded the fall of his wartime government to Labor in the General Election of July 1945.
Reference: A214.1.a, Woods/ICS A107(a.1), Langworth p.228. Item #007374