A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, a full set of four publisher's proof copies
Winston S. Churchill
Price: 340.00 USD
London: Cassell and Company Ltd, 1956. Here is a full, four-volume set of publisher's proof copies. Churchill's four volume epic, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, was published between 1956 and 1958. The work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself. The work itself was two decades in the making. The Churchillian conceptions that underpinned it were lifelong. The cultural commonality and vitality of English-speaking peoples animated Churchill throughout his life, from his Victorian youth in an ascendant British Empire to his twilight in the midst of the American century. Churchill began A History of the English-Speaking Peoples in the 1930s, completing a draft of "about half a million words" which was set aside when Churchill returned to the Admiralty and to war in September 1939. The work was fittingly interrupted by an unprecedented alliance among the English-speaking peoples during the Second World War - an alliance Churchill personally did much to cultivate, cement, and sustain. The interruption continued as Churchill bent his literary efforts to his six-volume history, The Second World War, and then his remaining political energies to his second and final premiership from 1951-1955. This first edition is regarded as one of the most beautiful productions of Churchill's works, with tall red volumes and striking, illustrated dust jackets. Churchill seems to have taken an active and detailed interest in the aesthetics of the publication. He told his doctor: "it is not necessary to break the back of the book to keep it open. I made them take away a quarter of an inch from the outer margins of the two pages and then add the half-inch so gained to the inner margin." He was clearly satisfied with the result, remarking with pardonable exuberance "It opens like an angel's wings." (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.1184) The publisher's proof copies were bound in thin card wraps of varying color. The contents lack the volume I preface and the indexes. Each cover is printed "PROOF ONLY" on the lower front cover, with the publication date and price specified. For proof copies, this is a reasonably clean set, varying in condition from very good to near fine. The bindings are all intact, with fully attached covers that show no losses. Volume I shows a some edgewear, light overall soiling, and a forward lean, with light spotting to the contents. The red Volume II wraps covers retain strong color, with some edgewear and a few small stains, with bright contents. Volumes III and IV are in excellent condition, protected by their original proof copy dust jackets, with bright wraps bindings beneath and clean contents, marked only by light spotting to Volume IV. Bibliographic reference (for the first edition, first printing): Cohen A267.1(I-IV).a, Woods/ICS A138(aa), Langworth p.315. Proof copies of the first editions.