A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES
(Cohen A267) (Woods A138)
Churchill’s last great work was published nearly twenty years after its first draft was penned in the late 1930s, just after Churchill had wrapped up Marlborough. This enabled him to utilize the literary team he’d assembled for the biography, to which he added dozens of outlines he had solicited from scholars. In his Preface he remarks that the book “slumbered peacefully” until 1956, “when things have quietened down.” They had certainly quieted for him; for the first time since 1922-23, when he was briefly out of Parliament, his voice no longer counted at the summit of affairs. Reading reports of the last decade of his life, one is struck by the central interest his History represented in his final years, how rapidly he sank into decline and depression after the final volume was published. His prewar contract with Cassell called for him to be paid £20,000; the work eventually earned millions, was repeatedly reprinted, and remains in print today.
In its final form the original single volume evolved to four, each of which was published simultaneously in Britain, the U.S., and Canada—a first for Churchill’s works. Each volume is divided into three “books.” Volume I, The Birth of Britain, takes us from the primitive tribes who formed the “Island Race” to the development of the nation through the Feudal Age, ending with the reign of Richard III. Volume II, The New World, spans the period from the consolidation of the Tudor dynasty in 1485 to the “great and glorious” Revolution of 1688, the emergence of England as a great power, and the establishment in North America of “lively and assertive communities” of English-speaking peoples. Volume III, The Age of Revolution, was perhaps Churchill’s favourite, covering as it does the 1668-1815 period: from William III through the age of Marlborough and Queen Anne and the American war of Independence, to Trafalgar, Waterloo, and the defeat of Napoleon. Our author reminds us that this critical period produced three revolutions which “profoundly influenced mankind. They occurred within the space of a hundred years, and all of them led to war between the English and the French.” Volume IV, The Great Democracies, is more detailed, covering only eighty-five years of 19th century history: recovery after the Treaty of Vienna, the mid-century reforms, the development of the United States, Victorian Britain, and the modern Empire. There it stops. “I could not write about the woe and ruin of the terrible twentieth century,” Churchill told his doctor, Lord Moran, exhibiting a foretaste of his old age ennui: “We answered all the tests. But it was useless.” (Diary of June 19th, 1956, Moran, Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, London and Boston: 1966).
A History was roundly hailed in almost sycophantic terms by contemporary reviewers, for Churchill had by now reached the mellow status of a living legend—and deservedly so. He had not yet been subject to the historical reconsideration all legends receive sooner or later (equally deservedly). For the purposes of this book, I find latter day analyses more interesting, and have substituted some dramatically different viewpoints for the usual contemporary book reviews.
This work has been roundly criticized for the same fault as The Second World War, that it is “not history.” It is certainly less an original contribution to history than Marlborough. Yet, as with his memoirs of the two World Wars, Churchill himself never claimed that it was history: “This book does not seek to rival the works of professional historians. It aims rather to present a personal view on the processes whereby English-speaking peoples throughout the world have achieved their distinctive position and character….If there was a need for it before, that has certainly not passed away….Language, law, and the processes by which we have come into being [afford] a unique foundation for drawing together and portraying a concerted task.”
Here again Churchill leaves himself open to critics: his work is Atlantic-centric: Australia and New Zealand get only a few paragraphs of boilerplate. Moreover, it is Anglo-centric. Reading it, the proverbial man from Mars would scarcely realize that the United States and Canada were built by many besides Englishmen; that the Industrial Revolution was not entirely beneficent; that labour unions were necessary to stem the excesses of laissez-faire; that all wars were not glorious (although the American Civil War gets its share of gravitas); that America and the Great Dominions evolved a new aristocracy based on merit, not birth like the old one—and as such express vastly different cultures than the Mother Country’s. Clearly this complaint about A History is valid—but Churchill himself would probably not have contested it. Clement Attlee perhaps had the best one-line description of the work when he suggested that it might have been entitled, Things in History Which Interested Me.
Churchill’s aristocratic breeding may be his greatest failure as a writer of what one might call (although didn’t) “popular history.” The great climacterics in democracy’s evolution, for example, did not usually lead directly to power of, by and for the people; the Magna Carta’s immediate effect was privilege for the aristocracy versus the State. But where would the English and American Democracies be without the Magna Carta? Is Churchill wrong to emphasize that great piece in democracy’s mosaic, even if he doesn’t bother equally to limn the influence of Rousseau and Montesquieu on the American Constitution?
Another criticism of the work is our author’s “smug satisfaction” over the “perfection” of the British and American systems, but this is a sweeping overstatement. Recall if you will his 1954 response to a churlish letter from Eisenhower, suggesting he make a speech about “the rights to self-government,” since “Colonialism is on the way out.” Churchill’s reply displays remarkable frankness for a statesman so often regarded as a devious Machiavellian: “In this I must admit I am a laggard. I am a bit skeptical about universal suffrage for the Hottentots even if refined by proportional representation. The British and American Democracies were slowly and painfully forged and even they are not perfect yet.” (Boyle, ed., The Churchill Eisenhower Correspondence 1953-1955 (University of North Carolina Press 1990).
Not much smug satisfaction there. And how much better it would have been had Eisenhower and Eden heeded Churchill’s strictures over Suez two years later—not to mention the Somalis, Rwandans and Congolese of the 1990s, and maybe even the Indians and Pakistanis of the 1940s? How much better it would have been for all the British colonial peoples if the end of Empire had been pursued with less of what Churchill described as “unseemly scuttle?”
To other modern analysts of Churchill’s literary output, the standard complaints about his History miss a fairly broad point. Professor James W. Muller, one of America’s leading Churchill scholars, sums it up this way: “This is a magnificent interpretation of British history from a man who had as good a claim to have a practical grasp of statesmanship as any writer who ever described it. One can learn a great deal about how Churchill interpreted his own regime by reading this book—what he thought important, and why. The idea that it is a merely personal view is like the idea that his prime ministry was merely personal: in a sense, quite true, but in a more important sense, beside the point, which is that the views of this person, because of his experience and grasp of politics, are more deserving of our attention than those of any number of conventionally educated Ph.D.s.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“How, now that we have these four fat volumes before us, can Churchill’s value as an historian be assessed? The modern schools of history, composed of serious and pessimistic scholars, do not appreciate the dramatic or romantic representation of events and prefer to analyze human fortunes in social or economic terms. Churchill is, of course, well aware of the alterations occasioned in human thoughts and wishes by such factors as mass immigration, religious enthusiasms, the rivalry between urban and rural communities and the varying demands for spices, sugar, cotton, tar or timber. He adheres, however, to the old-fashioned view that national destiny is most often marred or furthered by the action upon the contemporary environment of men of willpower and genius. ‘The fortunes of mankind,’ he writes, ‘are largely the result of the impact upon events of superior beings.’ To the scientific historian this may seem an oversimplification of the pattern or circumstance. To the ordinary person the flash and dash of Churchill’s zest will render these four volumes readable, humane, exhilarating, memorable and exemplary….Few historians, moreover, have been gifted with a style of equal subtlety and vigor, a style at once classical and romantic, precise and imaginative, tolerant yet gently ironical, deeply sensitive to the tragedy of human failure and scornful only of those who are faithless to the virtue within them. These four volumes leave us with enhanced admiration for human character, and an added compassion for human fallibility. They are the legacy of a man of superhuman energy, great intellectual powers and utmost simplicity of soul.”
-Harold Nicolson, The New York Times Book Review, 16 March 1958
This is a physically beautiful edition. Churchill told his doctor, Lord Moran, “…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. Look at it, Charles. It opens like an angel’s wings.” (Diary for 29 February 1956, Moran, Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, London and Boston: 1966). The dust jackets are equally magnificent. All this, plus its priority as the First Edition make this the one to own if you only own one.
All volumes are more than usually susceptible to spotting of the page edges and dulling of gilt spines; jackets hold up much better than the books beneath. Clean sets bearing some spotting and dulled gilt, in clean dust jackets, sell for relatively modest prices, but truly fine sets are at a premium. Be sure the stained top page edges haven’t faded and that there is no trace of page edge spotting, and store them in a dry place.
§ § §
Cohen A267.1 / Woods A138(a)
Publisher: Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 1956-58
Dark red cloth, blocked gilt on spine (author’s name, title, volume number and “CASSELL” with red stained top page edges, 8vo. Vol. I published 23 April 1956 at 30s. ($4.20); 440 pages numbered (2+) (i)-(xxii) and (1)-416. Vol. II published 26 November 1956 at 30s., 350 pages numbered (2+) (i)-(xxii) and (1)-334 (+2). Vol. III published 14 October 1957 at 30s., 352 pages numbered (2+) (i)-(xxii) and (1)-332 (+6). Vol. IV published 14 March 1958 at 30s, 346 pages numbered (2+) (i)-(xxii) and 1-(322). All volumes variously illustrated with maps and tables.
Editions, Impressions and Quantities
The following impressions are reported:
Vol. I, April (130,000) and May (30,000) 1956; January (20,000) and August 1957; January 1958 (9750); February 1959 (5000); August 1960 (4375); April 1962, October 1964 and February 1965 (5000 each). This volume saw at least eleventh editions, and the eleventh edition, seventh impression was published in April, 1980.
Vol. II, November 1956 (150,000); February 1957 (25,000), June 1963 (5000), March 1965 (5400) and November 1966 (3000).
Vol. III, October 1957 (150,000); March 1965 (5400) and January 1966 (3325).
Vol. IV, 150,000 (March 1958).
Further pressings have occurred since.
Identifying first editions: The verso of the title page reads “First Published 1956 [or 1957 or 1958]” with no notice of later impressions or editions.
Paperbacks have been issued since at least 1974, most recently issued in large size, some boxed as a set, with wrapper designs similar to first edition dust jackets.
These are the most attractive trade dust jackets ever to appear on Churchill’s works, beautifully illustrated in four-colour: Vol. I, the Bayeux Tapestry; Vol. II, the Woburn Abbey portrait of Elizabeth I and an early map of the world; Vol. III, Stanfield’s “Battle of Trafalgar” and Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence”; Vol. IV, Winterhalter’s “Queen Victoria and the Royal Family” and Healy’s. “The Peacemakers” (Lincoln and his military commanders). From the mid-1960s, jackets were varnished and printed in brighter colours. First Edition jackets are all printed on uncoated paper and contain the price “30s. NET” on the lower corner of the front flaps; they promote no other Churchill works although from Volume II on, each jacket contains review excerpts of the previous volume(s).
Later editions may vary slightly in the cloth binding, all however remaining essentially dark red. A set (not first impressions) was issued in a dark red box with a gold label referring to “Churchill’s People.”
Chartwell (First Illustrated) Edition
Cohen A267.2 / ICS A138d
Publisher: Educational Book Co., Ltd., 1956-58
Navy blue leatherette blocked gilt on top board (volume title and vertical rule); spines decoratively blocked gilt with main and volume titles and author’s name gilt on red leather labels. Individually typeset in a slightly larger, more readable face running to slightly more pages than the Trade Edition: respectively 486, 400, 382 and 378 for the four volumes. Blue and white head- and footbands, title page printed two-color, no frontispiece. Internal signatures of photographs located between the following pages: Vol. I, 64-65, 208-09, 400-01; Vol. II, 96-97, 160-61, 256-57; Vol. III, 80-81*, 144-45*, 176-77, 272-73; Vol. IV, 48-49*, 64-65*, 96-97, 160-61*, 192-93* and 288-89. (*four-page signatures; all others are eight pages).
Published simultaneously with the First Trade Edition, this beautiful set has a higher priority than ICS assigns it; Ronald Cohen lists it second only to the latter. As with the Chartwell Second World War, its obvious differences from the Trade Edition are its fine binding, extra-heavy page stock and internal illustrations; like the latter, it was sold by mail order and came only with plain glassine dust jackets. However, there are no frontispieces and no color plates. One function of the Educational Book Company was the support of students, who sold Chartwell Editions door to door. For this purpose “samples” may have been created along the lines of the Chartwell Second World War (q.v.).
Durably made, these books are almost always found with clean, tight, un-yellowed inner pages, but the bindings are subject to wear, most of it on the spines, where exposure causes discoloration and careless handling often produces chipped red leather title labels. Pristine, as-new sets have become rarities. Even worn sets are worth owning for the illustrations, fine print and bindings.
Cohen A267.3 / ICS A138ab
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1956-58
Reprinted periodically by Barnes & Noble, 1990’s
Quarter navy cloth and grey cloth, blocked gilt on top board (facsimile author signature); on spine are main title; volume title and author name with one to four stars; and publisher’s name, gilt on three red panels separated by thin gilt rules. Red stained top page edges, head- and footbands, title pages printed two-color, 8vo. Vol. I published 23 April 1956 at $6.00; 544 pages numbered (i)-(xxii) and (1)-(522). Vol. II published 26 November 1956 at $6.00, 448 pages numbered (i)-(xxii) and (1)-(436). Vol. III published 14 October 1957 at $6.00, 414 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and (1)-402. Vol. IV published 14 March 1958 at $6.00, 416 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and 1-(404). All volumes variously illustrated with maps and tables. The text was separately set for this Edition.
Editions, Impressions and Quantities
The following impressions were reported as of 1962: Vol. I, April 1956 (three), February and September 1958, May 1959, January 1961, September 1962; Vol. II, September 1956, December 1956, March and December 1958, October 1960, June 1961, April 1962; Vol. III, September 1957 (two, both pre-publication), October 1957, September 1962; Vol. IV, November 1957. There have been additional impressions in the years since, and in the 1980s the publisher reissued the work in large format paperbacks.
Identifying first editions: The verso of the title page reads “FIRST EDITION” just under the copyright line.
Collectors commonly believe the line on all early jacket flaps, “BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB SELECTION” means the jacket is from a Book Club Edition. Not so; all trade editions advertised this fact. The real key to a trade edition jacket is the $6.00 price, located at upper right of the front flap. This has often been clipped, but beware: BOMC jackets also state “BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB SELECTION” in this place, and an unscrupulous seller may have clipped it off.
A publisher’s presentation set exists in a light red buckram slipcase with a label containing the title and photograph of the author. The books inside state on the title page verso, “PRESENTATION EDITION NOT FOR SALE” below a line containing the exact publication date. The books carry normal dust jackets with the $6.00 price on front flaps.
Some first editions were printed on much thinner paper to meet demand; invariably, these are found with very dark red, I.e. maroon, spine panels instead of the normal bright read. Easily spotted because of their thinner bulk, these are nevertheless true First Editions.
Squat and unassuming, except for the fancy spinework, the American Edition is one of the least desired Churchill titles, even though it was apparently issued simultaneously with the English Edition. Of course these are much scarcer outside the USA, where they are often offered at inflated prices; but buyers abroad should not pay premiums for them.
Prices have been depressed for years, but are making a comeback as everything else gets even rarer. Dust jackets fade easily, and a set in pristine unfaded jackets is worth paying for.
Book Club Issue
Cohen A267.4 / ICS A138ac
Publisher: Book-of-the-Month Club, Camp Hill, Penn, 1956-1958
Published in association with Dodd, Mead, the BOMC Issue had an enormous sale and quickly outstripped all rivals as the largest selling version of Churchill’s History. Through 1962, BOMC Issues had enjoyed twenty-two, fourteen, twelve and ten impressions of the four volumes respectively.
Although at first glance they appear to be twins of the American Edition, BOMC issues are usually easily identified. Most lack head- and footbands, stained top page edges and the words “FIRST EDITION” on the versos of title pages; all carry a BOMC embossed “dot” or “square” at the lower righthand corner of the back boards. But as usual there are exceptions to the rule: some BOMC copies do state “FIRST EDITION” on the verso…but even these carry the “dot” on rear boards and their jackets are uniform BOMC jackets.
BOMC dust jackets carry a line of small type, “BOOK-0F-THE-MONTH CLUB* SELECTION” in place of the $6.00 price of Trade Editions. (The asterisk is footnoted as a trademark on the lower right corner of the flap). Later printings have dark instead of bright red spine panels; later dust jackets carry BOMC stock numbers (0061 through 0064 respectively) above the Dodd, Mead name on spines.
Cohen A267.5 / ICS A138ad
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto, 1956-58
Bound in navy cloth with facsimile author’s signature blocked blind on top board; spine printed like the American Issue except for the publisher’s name. The volumes carry cloth head- and footbands, but top page edges are unstained and title pages are printed in black only. Pagination as per the American Issue; title pages changed to state Canadian publisher. Dust jackets as per the American Issue, but no prices or BOMC mentions on front jacket flaps.
Offprinted from the American Edition, the Canadian Issue was published simultaneously with it and the English Edition, according to publisher’s slips laid into the volumes, making it, like them, a true First Edition.
Identifying first editions: only the blue binding appears to be the true first (see “Book Club Issue” below), but there is no indication to this effect on the title page or verso; unless a verso contains notice of reprinting, it may assumed to be a First Edition.
Presentation Variant: A limited run of 350 presentation copies of each volume was created by inserting an extra leaf before the title page, with a few lines praising the work (or preceding volumes) and presenting the current volume “with the best wishes and compliments of the season from myself and my associates,” hand-signed “John McClelland” for the company. The name of the recipient was written in a line reserved for that purpose. Such a set, inscribed to Churchill, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 1976.
Book Club Issue: A reprint was bound in red cloth with blue spine panels and no head- and footbands for the Canadian Book-of-the-Month Club. A jacket found on Volume I of this issue indicates its BOMC relationship.
The Canadian Issue is rare outside Canada, and preferred by some to the American for its rarity and richer navy blue binding. But no premium attaches to ordinary copies, which sell for the same modest prices as the American versions—except, of course for the presentation variant.
First Paperback Edition
Cohen A267.8 /ICS A138ea
Publisher: Cassell & Co. Ltd, London, 1962
Published in large format (5 x 7 1/2″) with unillustrated wrappers, completely reset. Later wrappers were illustrated. Still in print, it has had a huge press run. In the mid-1980s it had reached the fourth or fifth printings of a fourth distinct paperback edition. Originally 10s. ($1.40) per volume, it had risen to £3.50 per volume by the 1980s. In 1974 the work was also published on conventional small paperback size with the additional title, “Churchill’s People,” the wrappers bearing illustrations of the BBC Television series by that name. Look for a clean set of first impressions (labeled “first impression 1962” on title page verso).
Bantam Paperback Edition
Cohen A267.9 / ICS A138eb
Publisher: Bantam Books Inc., New York, 1963
Another resetting, the Bantam Edition was published in July 1963 at $1.25 per volume, or $5.00 for the “Deluxe Gift-Box Edition.” Numerous reprints since; consult Cohen for details. Trifling value, except for the (rare) first impression of 1963, but even this is not worth so very much in the original box.
Taiwanese (Pirated) Edition
Publisher: Book World Company, Taipei (n.d.)
Four volumes (Single-volume edition shown)
Offprinted from the original four volumes on thin paper, these are generally considered to be pirated volumes. 8vo, bound in brown cloth blocked silver on top board and spine; head- and footbands, brown cloth page marker; pagination as per the First Edition. A purple rubber stamped message in Chinese (1×2″) is found on the lower lefthand corner of rear free endpaper. Dust jackets printed light purple, red and black on white stock with a crown design on the top face and a rose design on the spine.
Though rather more handsome than the usual Asian reproductions, no particular value attaches to these volumes.
First (American) Abridged Edition
Cohen A267.12 / ICS A138f
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, 1965
Bound in blue cloth blocked gilt with facsimile author signature on top board and titles gilt on dark blue panels on spine. 8vo, 496 pages numbered (i)-(xvi) and 1-475 (+5) plus color frontispiece (1954 photo of author by Karsh) and 16 unnumbered heavier paper sheets containing photographs; also illustrated with maps and tables. Dust jacket printed red, blue and black on white stock with the Karsh frontispiece photo printed multicolor. Published at $7.95.
Henry Steele Commager’s preface notes that he has reduced the text to half its original size, with the remainder just as Churchill wrote it. Stating that it was “a grave responsibility to cut and trim and arrange a classic,” he explains that the abridged work is meant “for the large reading public which Churchill himself most wanted to reach….While Churchill was incapable of writing a dull paragraph, I have attempted to keep those chapters and passages which seem to have the greatest literary vigor and beauty. And as this book is designed primarily for American readers, I have given proportionately larger space to the story of the expansion of England, to the Empire, the Commonwealth, and the United States, than Churchill gave them in the four volumes of the History.”
This work has had numerous reprints; the description above applies to the First Edition, which is the only one with significant value on the antiquarian market.
Canadian Abridged Issue
Cohen A267.13 / ICS A138fb
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto, 1965
Offprinted from the First American Edition.
Cohen A267.14 & .15 / ICS A138g
Publisher: Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 1965-66
An abridgment of the original text specially developed for young people, this work was issued in two versions.
Blenheim Edition (.14): bound in plain green boards with color illustrated dust jackets.
School Edition (.15): bound in color printed boards to the same designs as the dust jackets.
The contents of each version were identical. Though of incidental value on the secondhand book market, this work deserves to be reprinted; it is the best adaptation of the larger work for children ages ten to fifteen.
American Paperback Abridged Edition
Cohen A267.16 / ICS A138fc
Publisher: Pocketbooks, New York 1966
Reset for small paperback format, published July 1966 at $1.95.
Second American Issue
Cohen A267.19 / ICS A138fd
Publisher: Greenwich House, New York, 1983
Offprinted from the American Edition by a division of Crown Publishers for the mail order trade. Shiny navy cloth blocked gilt on spine; dust jacket with color Karsh photo similar to the First American but with reset type.
Easton Press Edition
Cohen A267.24 / ICS A138k
Publisher: Easton Press Inc., Norwalk, Conn., 1992
Another of Easton Press’s leatherbound “collector’s editions,” this one handsomely offprinted from the English Chartwell Edition of 1956-58. 8vo, bound in dark blue pigskin, decoratively blocked gilt on boards and spine, five raised spine bands, volume title and author’s name gilt on separate red leather spine panels; gold moire cloth endpapers, all edges gilt, gold cloth page marker. Pagination essentially the same as the Chartwell Edition, but the title page is reset. In place of the author’s note about the Chartwell Edition on page xix is a “Bibliographic Note” by Richard Langworth, extending to page xx, and page xxi contains a note about the International Churchill Societies. The Societies provided the Chartwell Edition from which this edition is offprinted. Published at $260.
The blue, red and gilt binding and offprinted contents make this a modern version of the fine Chartwell Edition. Given the recent rise in price of the latter, this may well soon become a bargain alternative. The Easton Edition is a handsome presentation. Its faults are a fairly low grade of leather with no aroma, and garish peel-‘n’-stick bookplates laid into the volumes. The plates might be kept for the record, but definitely not be pasted over those lovely moire endpapers.
Barnes & Noble Issue
Cohen A267.25 ICS A138fe
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books, New York 1993
Offprinted from a First American Edition furnished by the International Churchill Societies, which received a blurb on page (476) by way of thanks. Bound in half maroon cloth and rose paper-covered boards, dust jacket predominately brown. Still in print at this writing, $7.95.
Fourth American Issue
Cohen A267.26 / ICS A138ff
Publisher: Wing Books, New Jersey 1994
Apparently offprinted from the Barnes & Noble issue. Bound in quarter red cloth on black boards, spine blocked gilt. The dust jacket is printed in gold, red and white with a black and white photo of the author. Distributed by Random House Value Publishing, Inc.
French: HISTOIRE (4 vols.)
Published by Plon: Paris 1956-59. The “edition originale” is limited to 87 copies on Lafuma paper and 330 copies on Roto Blanc Aussedat paper bound in pale blue wrappers. The trade edition has brightly coloured card wrappers.
German: GESCHICHTE (4 vols.)
Published by Scherz: Zurich 1956-58 in deep red-brown cloth and colourful dust jackets. Republished 1990 by Weltbild: Augsberg in red cloth blocked yellow.
Hebrew: (4 vols.)
Published 1958-1959 (two volumes each year) in dark blue cloth with dust jackets.
Italian: STORIA (4 vols.)
Published by Mondadori: Rome 1956-59 in cloth, each volume in an individual orange cardboards slipcase.
Norwegian: HISTOIRIE SAGAEN OM DE ENGELSKTALEND NASJONER (4 vols.)
Published by Cappelens: Oslo 1956-61: a beautiful set in quarter dark green leather and red cloth, spines elaborately blocked with gilt lions, red and black title panels. Multicolour dust jackets.
Portuguese: HISTóRIA DOS POVOS DE LíNGUA INGLêSA (4 vols.)
Published by Instituicao Brasilieira de Difusao Cultural S.A.: Sao Paulo: 1960. Green cloth or card wrappers, photo of the author on rear boards.
Swedish: HISTORIA (4 vols.)
Published by Skoglund: Stocholm 1956-58 in wrappers, blue cloth and natural or dark red leather, all with dust jackets.
§ § §
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
(Cohen A272) (Woods A138[b])
The first of many spin-offs from Churchill’s History, this fine little work captures his marvelous and detailed description of America’s greatest domestic convulsion, coupling his text with excellent Civil War photographs by Matthew Brady and others. Churchill had explored the Battlefields of Virginia with none other than Douglas Southall Freeman, the great American Civil War historian; and he had toured Gettysburg with a local resident of some experience at war, Dwight Eisenhower. His fine if brief account of the War Between the States has been admired by historians and students alike.
Cohen A272.1 / ICS A138ba
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd., London, 1961
Bound in red cloth blocked gilt on spine only with “WINSTON | SPENCER | CHURCHILL” at head, Cassell at foot, and The American Civil War centered, reading up. 8vo, 128 pages numbered (i)-xiv and 1-111 (+1), plus
32 pages of photos on coated paper arranged as follows: four each between pages 16-17, 32-33; eight each between pages 24-25, 64-65 and 80-81. Also illustrated with maps. Published 23 March 1961 at 12s. 6d. ($1.75). Two impressions of 10,000 in March and 5,000 in April (not May as per Woods). Dust jacket printed black and red on white paper with photograph of two soldiers on top face.
Printed on thick, rather pulpy paper, this edition does not hold up well, and is given to yellowing and spotting. Genuinely fine copies in crisp dust jackets are rare.
Cohen A272.2 / ICS A138bb
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1961
Wholly set up and printed in the United States. Bound in bluish-green cloth blocked gilt on spine (all type reading down); title in a black panel with gilt border. 8vo, 160 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and 1-145 (+1), with the same 32 coated paper photo pages as above, inserted between pages 18-19, 34-35, 50-51, 82-84 and 114-115. Also illustrated with maps. Published 1961 at $3.
Less often seen than the First Edition, but printed on far superior paper and rather more attractively bound, this is a handsome addition to the Churchill library.
First Paperback Issue
Cohen A272.3 / ICS A138bc
Publisher: Apollo Books, New York, 1966
The first paperback version of the work was offprinted from the Dodd, Mead American Edition. Pagination is the same, but the 32 pages of photos (on heavy uncoated bright white paper) are inserted in a single unnumbered signature between pages 50-51. Published at $1.95.
Cohen A272.4 ICS A138bd
Publisher: Corgi Books, London, 1970
The size of a paperback but bound in hard illustrated boards with a photo from the original dust jacket and a superimposed photo of Lincoln on an olive background. 144 pages numbered (1)-(144) plus 16 pages of photographs on coated paper. Published at 7s. (50¢).
Cohen A272.5 / ICS A138be
Publisher: Upendra Arora for Natraj Publishers, Dehra Dun, 1978
An offprint of the First Edition bound in similar red cloth blocked gilt on spine (author’s name and title reading down), “NATRAJ” reading across at foot). The dust jacket is similar in format to the First Edition but the top board illustration is of Lincoln and his generals. This is a rare item, hardly ever seen. Pay cheerfully if you are lucky enough to find one.
Second American Issue
Cohen A272.6 / ICS A138bf
Publisher: Fairfax Press, New York, 1985
Offprinted from the Dodd, Mead Edition, with photographs included (but not on coated paper). Navy cloth blocked gilt on spine; dust jacket printed purple, red and tan on white stock, without illustrations. Distributed by Crown Publishers, the discount remainder house, and also sold by Barnes & Noble Bookstores at $7.00.
§ § §
THE ISLAND RACE
(Cohen A275) (Woods A138[c])
Originally published as a large format, coffee table book, elaborately illustrated with much color, this excerpted work saw several forms and was occasionally used as a corporate gift item. “The Island Race has been designed as a majestic volume to present, in impressive array, the hundreds of reproductions in color and monochrome of those historic paintings which have preserved for all time a contemporary view of the great events and the outstanding figures of this country’s history. No more fitting setting could be devised for the story of his own people told by the greatest Briton of our age.”
Cohen A275.1 / ICS A138ca
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd., London, 1964
Bound in quarter dark green leatherette and bright green canvas cloth blocked gilt on top board (vertical rule) and spine (“WINSTON S. | CHURCHILL” at head, “CASSELL” at foot, and “The | Island | Race” toward the top. 4to (9 3/4 x 12 1/4″), 320 pages numbered (i)-(viii) and 1-(312), printed on satin coated page stock and profusely illustrated throughout. Published 23 November 1964 at £6 6s. ($17.64). Three impressions (designated “editions”) of 42,500, 10,290 (December 1964), May 1966 (5,000). Dust jacket printed multicolor on a bright green background.
Third impressions and Popular Editions exist with title pages imprinted “The Swedish American Line” and a color print of the MV Stockholm tipped onto the half title, which is imprinted, “Pleasant Memories of My Cruise with | the Swedish American Line”. A “Popular Edition” measuring 8 x 10 1/2″ and printed on cheaper uncoated page stock was produced in 1968.
The huge press run renders this edition very common and prices of First Editions have not risen significantly. The Swedish American Line variant is interesting, but as reprint it does not sell for much more than ordinary reprints.
Cohen A275.2 / ICS A138cb
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1964
A lookalike to the First Edition, printed in England for Dodd, Mead and differing only through their name on the jacket and book spine and title page, and Library of Congress details on title page verso. Woods records that 7,500 copies were printed for Dodd, Mead, but a second impression (also 1964) has been reported as well.
Presentation variant: An elegant binding in full dark red leather with tooled gilt title between horizontal rules on cover, with title, author and “NELSON” blocked gilt on spine, was printed and bound in Italy by Grafiche Editorialia Padane.
In 1987 the work was again reprinted and bound by Grafiche Editoriali Padane, but this time in conventional format, and offered by Dodd, Mead in the USA at $24.95. The binding is similar in to the original trade edition but the colours of the two halves are almost uniform olive green and the volume bulks thinner because of thinner page stock.
Reprint Society Issue
Cohen A275.4 / ICS 138ca/1
Publisher: Reprint Society, London, 1966
Marked “third edition 1966,” same as first edition but “Cassell World Books” on spine and “Reprint Society” on title page.
Cohen A275.6 / ICS A138cc
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd., London, 1968
Substantially reduced (8 x 10 1/2″), this cheap edition was printed in reduced on cheaper uncoated page stock although pagination was unaltered and all color and monochrome illustrations were retained. Published at 63s. ($8.62). An American issue by Dodd, Mead has been reported. A much less impressive affair than the magisterial First Edition, this book has incidental value on the secondhand market.
Corgi Paperback Edition
Cohen A275.7 / ICS A138cd
Publisher: Corgi Books, London, 1968
Originally published in large format (7 1/2 x 10″) single volume with top board printed like the first edition dust jacket. Reprinted 1972 in two volumes in new multicolor wrappers (Vol. 1 blue background, Vol. 2 purple), in a dark blue slipcase decorated with a Union Flag. A later slipcase was silver with a stylized Royal Arms. The 1972 price was £2.50 ($7) for the slipcased set.
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HEROES OF HISTORY
(Cohen A278) (ICS A138h)
An interesting extract from Churchill’s original text, this work contains his words on thirteen of what the publisher calls his “favorite characters”: Kings Alfred and Harold, William the Conqueror, Henry Plantagenet, Thomas Becket, Richard II, Henry V, Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Washington, Nelson, Wellington, Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Queen Victoria. A fourteenth chapter is on Churchill himself, comprising his words from My Early Life and various speeches in the Commons from the Boer War through World War II. All versions of this work contain 192 pages numbered (1)-192, sprinkled with illustrations in color by Robert Maclean. Dust jackets printed multicolor on white stock with black spine panel containing title and author printed red and white respectively. The title is fairly uncommon, but no great value attaches to any of the various issues. All were published in 1968; the three different issues are identified by the publisher’s name on the spine and jacket spine.
First (American) Edition
Cohen A278.1 / ICS A138ha
Publisher: Dodd, Mead, New York, 1968
Published at 30s. ($4.20). Jacket spine type reads down.
Cohen A278.2 / ICS A138hc
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart, 1968
Published at C$4.95. Jacket spine type reads up.
Publisher: Cassell and Company ltd., London, 1968
Purnell Magazine Edition
ICS A138i (Not in Cohen)
Publisher: BPC-Purnell Ltd., 1968
Initially published serially in magazine format, this work is not 100% by Churchill and is relegated to a later section of Ronald Cohen’s Bibliography. It is mentioned here for those who may have encountered it. The text consists partially of excerpts from Churchill’s History, and partially of additional notes, treatises and sidebars by other authors. The pages are profusely illustrated in color and monochrome.
After all volumes were issued, BPC offered thick blue vinyl binders to house them. Binders were blocked dull gold, numbered 1-7, and were accompanied by two guidebooks containing supplemental material.
Second State: The publisher also offered the complete set of twenty-three volumes bound in red leatherette blocked gilt (rampant lion on top board, type on spine). Sets are also known in dark blue leatherette blocked gilt and red.
There is little demand for the volumes in binders, probably because they are unwieldy and take up so much space.
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JOAN OF ARC
(Cohen A279) (ICS A138j)
Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1969
Subtitled, Her Life as Told by WINSTON CHURCHILL. Bound in white cloth blocked gilt (fleur de lis on top board, titles on spine). 16mo, 48 pages numbered (1)-(48) including seventeen color illustrations by Lauren Ford. Dust jacket printed light blue and red-brown with two Ford illustrations printed multicolor.
This sweet little book (4 3/4 x 7″) excerpts Churchill’s words from Volume I of his History on the French heroine, which the publishers rather optimistically call “perhaps the finest prose that England’s great hero has ever written.” The publishers also feel obligated to explain in a note that the text opens shortly before the end of the Hundred Years War, and that “the events which are recounted were to lead at last to the breaking forever of England’s hold over France.”
This work enjoyed a very limited run and is the scarcest of all extracts from Churchill’s History. Serious collectors want this interesting extract badly, and willingly pay the high prices its limited supply requires.
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