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 very good condition, sound, complete, and unusually bright and clean despite some minor wear and flaws. The cloth bindings retain strikingly bright red hue and gilt, with no color shift between the covers and spines. The bindings show only minor scuffs and blemishes and light wear to extremities. The Volume I binding is a bit shaken at the front hinge, but still firmly intact. The contents are notably bright and clean, with no spotting and strong top edge gilt. The untrimmed fore and bottom edges are clean, showing only mild age-toning and a few scuffs. The sole previous ownership marks affirm that this is a mated pair; the same personal library bookplate of “Mrs. William Sumner Crosby” of “Brookline Massachusetts”, each with a hand-written Book number, is affixed to each front pastedown, with the further name of a presumed descendent, “Eleanor Davis Crosby Brookline”, inked above the Volume I bookplate.
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 #007439