By Winston S. Churchill
First published in 1952 by Cassell and Company Limited, London
"I was very glad that Mr. Atlee described my speeches in the war(Remarks of 30 November 1954)
as expressing the will... of the whole nation...
It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart.
I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.
I also hope that I sometimes suggested to the lion the right places to use his claws.”
During his long public life, Winston Churchill played many roles worthy of note - Member of Parliament for more than half a century, soldier and war correspondent, author of scores of books, ardent social reformer, combative cold warrior, painter, Nobel Prize winner. But Churchill's preeminence as a historical figure owes most to his indispensable leadership during the Second World War, when his soaring and defiant oratory sustained his countrymen and inspired the free world. Of Churchill, Edward R. Murrow said, "He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."
Having done so much to win the war, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his wartime government fell to Labour in the General Election of July 1945, bringing Clement Atlee to the premiership and placing Churchill in Opposition. In the British General Election of October 1951 the Conservatives won 321 seats to Labour’s 295, returning Churchill to Downing Street at the age of 77. He would remain Prime Minister until April 1955.
Churchill's return to the premiership induced his publisher, Cassell, to capitalize on renewed interest in Churchill's war speeches. Between 1941 and 1946, Churchill's war speeches were published in seven individual volumes. These editions had been visually striking, but were printed on cheap wartime paper, bound in coarse cloth with thin boards beneath, and the dust jackets were likewise printed on thin paper. Moreover, by 1952 all seven volumes were out of print.
Hence Cassell issued a new, "Definitive" three-volume British edition in 1952. Aesthetically, the set is a dramatic improvement upon the original wartime editions. The three tall volumes are bound in smooth, dark blue cloth with stout boards and gilt spine print. The contents are printed on quality paper stock with generous margins. The uniform dust jackets are printed dark pink, grey, and black on pale yellow stock with an illustrated motif that Bibliographer Ronald Cohen calls a "dark grey line-drawn Romanesque architectural background."
The contents too had a noteworthy makeover. In 1942 Charles Eade, Editor of the Sunday Dispatch, had stepped in as compiler of Churchill's wartime speech volumes, replacing Churchill's son, Randolph, who had been called to wartime service. Notably, he had offered his services free of charge, stating, "my reward for the task would be the pleasure of doing it" (7 May 1941 letter from Charles Eade to Kathleen Hill). Eade ultimately edited six of the seven wartime volumes - all except the first, Into Battle.
For this edition, Eade returned, modifying many speech titles, adding several speeches, and eliminating several for which he deemed "time has reduced their significance." The speeches "are linked, where necessary, with brief notes to form a complete, chronological story." Most welcome and helpful is the addition of an index, which was not present in the original wartime volumes.
Cassell published a first printing of 4,700 sets on 3 September 1952. There was a second printing of Volume I in March 1963, of Volume II in February 1965, and of Volume III in July 1964. A third printing of Volume I only was published August 1967. Collectors should note that the dust jackets of these later printings are the same style of the first printings, but differ in particulars, including rear face and flap content.
A U.S. edition was issued by Houghton Mifflin in 1953 using British sheets. There was just a single issue of 500 copies, making this edition among the smallest of any British or U.S. edition of Churchill's books.
This U.S. first edition was bound quite differently and more elaborately than its English counterpart, with a black cloth spine decorated and printed in gilt, over red cloth boards, yellow-stained top edge, and head and foot bands. The light blue and black dust jackets are illustrated with a reproduction from Churchill's hand-corrected typescript of the first Secret Session speech. The publisher issued the three-volume set in an undecorated navy leatherette slipcase.
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