London: Macmillan and Company Limited, 1907. Hardcover. This is the 1907 first one-volume unabridged edition of Winston Churchill’s biography of his father. This copy is more noteworthy for provenance than for intrinsic collectible value. The only previous owner mark in the book is inked in three lines on the front free endpaper recto: “Margaret Moss | Cowichan Station | B.C.”
This book belonged to Margaret Johnstone Moss (1871-1937) of Cowichan Station, British Columbia. Margaret is noteworthy both for her accomplishments and for the fact that her history is substantially known – atypical for a woman of her time. During the Boer War Margaret was selected by the British Colonial office to work among the women and children in the concentration camps in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and was later put in charge of educational services there. It was likely here that Margaret met Major Claude Moss, then serving as the deputy assistant adjutant general of the Orange River Colony. They married Dec. 24, 1903 at the Presbyterian Church in Bloemfontein. On her husband's retirement from the army in 1908 the couple came to Vancouver Island to settle and live in Cowichan Station in a house they called ‘Tempe'. She was instrumental in organizing the Cowichan Branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society in 1914. The outbreak of the First World War that same year saw her husband answering Lord Kitchener's call for the services of retired officers. He returned immediately to England and served from Dec. 14, 1914 to May 19, 1919, first in England and later in France and Austria. Margaret followed her husband to England in 1915. There she supervised the Soldier's Home in Whitchurch, Shropshire and became a member of Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, a charity providing items for comfort for the troops. When the Women's Corps was formed, Margaret took training and in February 1918 was appointed a Principal with the Women's Royal Naval Service in the Portsmouth division. She transferred to the Women's Royal Air Force in November 1918 where she was appointed Assistant Commandant on staff in London with 11,000 women under her command. For her military services she was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and personally thanked by King George V at a Buckingham Palace investiture in April 1919. Returning to Cowichan Station, she founded the health center there in 1920 and it has since been named after her. Thus, Moss would plausibly have been interested in Churchill for a number of reasons, starting with their shared experiences in South Africa and in WWI.
Condition of this copy approaches very good. The binding is tight and square with minor sunning to the spine and light overall scuffing. The contents are respectably clean. Light spotting appears confined to the rear endpapers. Age-toning and minor soiling appear confined to the fore and bottom edges. The top edge remains bright with light scuffing. The upper fore edges of pages xvii through page 32 are negligibly creased.
The British first edition was published in two volumes in 1906. In 1907, the publisher issued this one-volume edition, containing the full text of the two-volume work as originally published in 1906, but printed on thinner paper. The binding closely resembles the first edition of just a year earlier.
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. 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. 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 A17.4, Woods/ICS A8(b), Langworth p.74. Item #007638