Liberalism and the Social Problem Browse current inventory of this title

By Winston S. Churchill
First published in 1909 by Hodder and Stoughton, London

"Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty.
Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests
in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved,
namely, by reconciling them with public right.
Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise
from the trammels of privilege and preference.
Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek
more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass.
Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man.
Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly."

(Liberalism and the Social Problem, p.155)


This is Churchill's third book of speeches (following Mr. Brodrick's Army and For Free Trade) and dates from his period as an ardent reformer and a bright star of the Liberal Party.  In 1904, Churchill quit the Conservative Party and joined the Liberals, beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and be branded a traitor to his class.

In 1909, when Liberalism and the Social Problem was published, Churchill had just been promoted to a Cabinet position. His 21 speeches in this volume address a broad range of social issues still topical today, with the young Churchill trying to chart a progressive course between reactionary conservatism and radical socialism. Churchill would remain a member of the Liberal Party until rejoining the Conservatives in 1924.

The British first edition is bound in a deep red cloth stamped in gilt on the spine and bearing Churchill's gilt-stamped facsimile signature on the front cover.  The illustrated dust jacket is a striking period piece, bearing a fuller version of the same photo of Churchill that would appear on the front cover of the wraps edition of The People's Rights published a year later.  This is an iconic image, encapsulating the brashly confident young Cabinet Minster.  Regrettably, only two substantially complete copies of the dust jacket are known to survive.

There was a second and final printing of the first edition - inaccurately denoted "SECOND EDITION" on the title page.  The only content changes made for this second printing were the title page notation and correction of a date on page 277 (amusingly introducing a new error rather than accurately correcting the first).  

We have made two noteworthy discoveries with respect to the second and final printing of the British first edition.  First, it had been previously unknown whether the publication date for the second printing was 1909 or 1910.  We are able to confirm 1909 with discovery of a second printing copy bearing an owner inscription dated 1909. Second, and far more exciting, we discovered a previously unknown wraps edition of the second printing.  The copy pictured here is the sole known surviving copy, unknown to bibliographers and collectors until 2010.

The publisher produced a wraps issue of My African Journey in 1908 (now quite rare), but until this copy was discovered no wraps issue was known - or even presumed - for Liberalism and the Social Problem.  This copy came from Glasgow, Scotland of course having a strong association with Churchill's Liberal Party membership as during most of his time as a Liberal M.P., Churchill represented Dundee (1908 to 1922).

The front cover of this wraps issue of Liberalism and the Social Problem bears a closer crop of the same striking half-tone photograph of the author used on the dust jackets of the hardcover issue.  Interestingly, the crop is exactly that on the front cover of the wraps edition of The People's Rights.  The rear cover lists three Hodder & Stoughton "Pamphlets For Distribution". Presumably, the spine originally had title at the top and publisher at the bottom.

The text block was obviously trimmed for the wraps issue, the wraps issue being one inch shorter and more than half an inch narrower than its hardcover counterpart. The contents are otherwise identical to those of the hardcover first edition, second printing, and bulk the same 1.5 inches thick, the only difference being the omission of the endpapers from the wraps edition.

A U.S. first edition of only 465 copies was issued in 1910, making it among the smallest issues of any Churchill first edition.  This U.S. first edition was printed and bound in England and supplied to the U.S. publisher George Doran in New York.  The binding cloth is similar to that of the British first edition, though there is no gilt stamped facsimile signature on the front cover.  It is unknown whether dust jackets accompanied the U.S. first edition.

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