Winston S. Churchill: The Official Biography, a full set of British first editions, comprising all eight main text volumes, accompanied by a laid-in small archive of related material including two signed presentation letters (1981 & 1988) about the work f
Randolph S. Churchill and Martin Gilbert
Price: 1,400.00 USD
London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1966. This is a full, British first edition set of the eight main text volumes of the Official Biography of Winston S. Churchill. This set is of interest both for condition and provenance. Laid into the volumes we found two presentation letters from Sir Martin Gilbert, both addressed to a friend named "Emmanuel". The first letter, dated "13th May 1981" and written entirely in Sir Martin's hand, reads: "The latest Churchill document volume is about to be published and I should very much like you to receive a copy in advance of publication. Hopefully it will reach you at about the same time as this letter. You have always been such a supporter and encourager of my efforts, and shown such interest in them, that I always like you to be among the very first to see - and to have - the volumes. Of course, Elizabeth is included in all the above!!! With much, much love as always, Martin". The second letter, dated "7 June 1988" and typed on Sir Martin's stationery, bears his autograph valediction "with much love Martin". This letter reads, in part,: "Dear Emmanuel, ... You know how much your enthusiasm, support and encouragement for the whole project have meant to me over more than twenty years. Indeed, as you know, it was to you that I wrote the famous "missing" postcard in April, 1955 describing my visit to Downing Street on the night of Churchill's resignation (to the street, that is!) I really do appreciate everything you have done for me over the years, and hope that you will enjoy this final volume and find it worthy of all the effort..." Though they were clearly close, longtime friends, we know only Emmanuel's Hampshire address, not his full name. We also found laid in to most of the volumes contemporary newspaper clippings, including reviews of most of the volumes, as well as an original 2 June 1975 BBC typed transcription of a review of Volume IV by Lord Hailsham. The Official Biography was begun by Winston's son, Randolph Churchill (1911-1968), and completed by Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015), who joined Churchill's biography team in 1962 at the age of 25. Of what became his life's work, Gilbert says: "I'd thought I'd last four or five months." Instead, when Randolph died in 1968 with only two of the eight volumes completed, Gilbert took over, committing a substantial portion of his scholarship and life's work to documenting, comprehending, and communicating what he called the "remarkable and versatile life" of Winston Churchill. British first editions of the eight main text volumes were originally published between 1966 and 1988. This British first edition set is near fine. All eight main text volumes feature uniform, solid color dust jackets and uniform red cloth bindings with red topstain. (The final three volumes were also issued in a cheaper "popular edition" with illustrated dust jackets, different bindings, and no red topstain.) The volumes are square and tight, the bindings clean with sharp corners, the contents clean and bright. Apart from the previously described documents laid in, the only ownership mark we find is an inked name and "October 1967" date on the Volume II pastedown. The red topstain varied in hue over the 22 years spanning publication; the eight volumes shows hues ranging from dark red to dark pink. The dust jackets are complete, with no losses. All the dust jackets are unclipped, retaining the original flap prices (including both the introductory and later prices on the Vol. IV and V jacket flaps). The dust jackets proved susceptible to spine-fading, particularly those of Volumes III, IV, V, and VII. In this set, all dust jackets retain bright, unfaded spine color except for Vol. IV, which has a toned spine. All dust jackets are unclipped, retaining the original flap prices. Each of the dust jackets is fitted with a clear, removable, archival quality protector. Please note that this set will likely require additional shipping cost. Bibliographic reference: Zoller A301a-h. First editions.