London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., 1938. First and only Canadian issue. Hardcover. This is the elusive Canadian issue of the fourth and final volume of Churchill's Marlborough. This final volume covers the years 1708 to 1722, chronicling the decline of Marlborough and the apparent frustration of his work. It is a substantial 671 pages with 24 illustrations, 39 maps and plans, and 1 document facsimile. The elusive Canadian editions of the first three volumes were published by Ryerson Press, so noted on the title pages and the spines of both the bindings and dust jackets. Not so the fourth volume, which is unique and little known even to collectors.
By 1938, arrangements between the British publisher Harrap and Ryerson had ended. So Harrap issued the fourth volume as British edition sheets in a British edition dust jacket, but bound to match the previous Ryerson volumes in a distinctly different dark purple smooth cloth without the beveled edges of the British edition. These Canadian Volume IV editions are scarce. Moreover, the British dust jacket and the fact that Harrap's name appears on the binding makes these Volume IV Canadian editions very hard to identify, as they are often understandably mistaken for British editions.
Here is a very good plus copy in a very good plus dust jacket. The dark purple cloth binding is square, clean, bright, and tight, with only a little wrinkling to the spine ends and small bumps to the corners. The contents are crisp and clean with no spotting and no previous ownership marks. The book feels unread. The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original lower front flap price, and essentially complete, with only fractional loss to the flap fold corners and minor wear to extremities. The jacket faces are bright and clean, the spine only lightly and evenly toned. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Marlborough was initially conceived a full 40 years before publication of the final volume. Churchill originally considered the idea of the biography in 1898, returning to it in earnest in 1928. Marlborough ultimately took 10 years of research and writing and is the most substantial published work of Churchill's "wilderness years" in the 1930s, which he spent politically isolated, often at odds with both his own party and prevailing public sentiment. This decade saw Churchill pass into his sixties with his own future as uncertain as that of his nation. Churchill may have wondered if the life history he was writing might ultimately eclipse his own.
Few would accuse Churchill of objectivity. Nonetheless, as a work of history it drew high praise. Upon reading the proofs, James Lewis Garvin, editor of The Observer, wrote “I think it to be… the greatest of all your works… Your full brush has never had more mastery over space and colour…” Two months after Volume I was published, on 12 December 1933, T.E. Lawrence wrote to Churchill: “I finished it only yesterday. I wish I had not… The skeleton of the book is so good. Its parts balance and the main stream flows… Marlborough has the big scene-painting, the informed pictures of men, the sober comment on political method, the humour, irony and understanding… It is history, solemn and decorative.” When Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, it was partly for “mastery of historical and biographical description” on the strength of Marlborough, which was specifically cited and quoted by the Swedish Academy.
This fourth and final volume was first published almost exactly one year before the outbreak of the Second World War and Churchill’s return to the Cabinet to reprise his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty. Twenty months after the final volume was published Churchill became wartime prime minister.
Reference: Cohen A97.3, Woods/ICS A40(ac). Langworth p.169. Item #007657