New York: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1906. First U.S. edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the first U.S. edition, only printing, of Winston Churchill’s 1906 biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. This U.S. edition is visually similar but aesthetically superior to its British counterpart, the volumes featuring gilt top page edges and a ribbed cloth binding with gilt and blind rules and the Marlborough Arms in gilt within a double blind ruled front cover panel.
This set is in good minus overall condition, sound, complete, and unrestored but showing age and experience. The cloth bindings retain strong red hue and bright spine and front cover gilt, but show moderate overall scuffing, fraying at points to the extremities, and some wrinkling and concavity to the spine cloth, particularly that of Volume I. The contents are notably bright and clean for the edition with no spotting, strong top edge gilt, and clean fore and bottom edges. The same previous owner name, date of “1920”, and location of “Montreal” is inked on each front free endpaper. There are also neatly inked reading notes on the upper final free endpaper verso of each volume and occasional underlining within the text.
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 A17.2, Woods/ICS A8(ab), Langworth p.71. Item #007398