Canada: Winnipeg Free Press, Regina Leader-Post, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 1940. First edition, both individual and collective issues. Paperback. This is a collection of eight early Second World War pamphlets, each publishing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s speeches spanning 13 May 1940 to 12 November 1940. These pamphlets were published in Canada simultaneously by three Canadian newspapers on or about 13 December 1940. The newspapers were the Regina Leader-Post, Winnipeg Free Press, and Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Each of the three newspapers put out their own edition in their respective cities at the same time. A week later, there was also a collective edition with all three newspapers listed as publishers together on the title page. In total, there were eight variations – each of the four publication issues bound in both yellow and green wraps, and orange and green wraps.
As may be imagined, it is almost prohibitively challenging to assemble all eight different issues. Here is a full set of eight. All are in very good condition. The original binding staples are still intact. The illustrated card wraps bindings are still bright and unfaded with only modest wear to extremities and light soiling. The contents are bright and complete. The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix issue with orange wraps has some ink notation to the upper front cover and a short, closed tear at the upper spine. The Winnipeg Free Press issue with yellow wraps has a small moisture stain to the lower front cover fore edge, also affecting the blank inner margin of the first few leaves.
The pamphlet title takes its name from Churchill’s speech of 18 June 1940 – his famous “Finest Hour” speech after the Dunkirk evacuation and fall of France, just weeks into Churchill’s wartime premiership. Churchill’s speech was delivered first to the House of Commons and then broadcast. The speech concludes with the famous Churchill lines: "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire last for a thousand years, men will still say "This was their finest hour." This is iconically defiant, inspirational wartime Churchill oratory. His "This was their finest hour" speech was made after France had sought an armistice on the evening of 16 June.
These pamphlets were published in early December 1940. At the time, Britain’s war was still not so much a struggle for victory as a struggle to survive. Churchill had become prime minister on 10 May 1940, and his first half a year in office saw, among other near-calamities, the Battle of the Atlantic, the fall of France, evacuation at Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain. A fraught, full year would pass before the U.S. officially entered the war.
Reference: Cohen A136; Woods mentions the publication under A66(a). Item #007530