LIBERALISM AND THE SOCIAL PROBLEM
(Cohen A29) (Woods A15)
That a young, radical Churchill was once held as the scourge of the British Establishment and a traitor to his class is largely forgotten by those who think of him only in the modern or at least the World War II context. Yet by 1909, when this third book of his speeches was published, Churchill was an ardent reformer, the bane of Torydom, and Lloyd George’s chief lieutenant and ally among the Young Turks of the Liberal Party in their assault on the privileges of the House of Lords, their championing of the earliest forms of welfare legislation, and their campaign for Home Rule in Ireland.
“My father was a Manchester Liberal,” said Alistair Cooke, recalling this period for The Churchill Centre in 1988. “He had been a young man during what he always said were Winston’s great years, from 1904 to 1910, during the memorable Liberal Parliament, when the two great radicals, Lloyd George and Churchill, embarked on the reform of British society. This strange alliance—the poor country boy and the aristocrat—abolished sweatshops and gave the miners an eight hour day. They set up the labour exchanges that led to unemployment insurance. In fact, what Roosevelt later called the ‘New Deal’ was really started in Germany by Bismarck, where Lloyd George sent a colleague to study Bismarck’s system. To Americans it is Franklin Roosevelt, inventor of memorable phrases, who has gone down as the man who invented the New Deal.” But FDR was years behind Bismarck, Lloyd George, and Churchill.
In Liberalism and the Social Problem we part company with the lighthearted, contemplative mood of My African Journey and turn to more serious business. There was also one other important watershed in the period between these two books: on September 12th, 1908, Churchill married Clementine Hozier, and thus Liberalism and the Social Problem is dedicated “To My Wife.” The dedication was politically as well as romantically apt, since Clementine was a lifelong Liberal, who never quite trusted the Conservatives, even after Churchill had returned to them as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. It was she who urged her husband not to accept the Tory Leadership after Neville Chamberlain’s fatal illness in late 1940, and she again who urged Winston to give up politics in 1945 and remain the national figure he had become. Though his wife’s advice was often very important and heeded, in these instances Churchill ignored her.
The Foreword to Liberalism and the Social Problem was written by Henry William Massingham (1860-1924), who espoused many of Churchill’s positions on handling the Boers in South Africa and was editor of The Nation from 1907 through 1923.
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“This grandson of a duke having fulfilled a longstanding wish by crossing the floor to become a “’radical’ or modern Liberal, questions of tariffs and economics then blossomed into the larger social issue which preoccupied Churchill for four crowded years. Liberalism and the Social Problem addresses itself to three important topics of the time: the speeches of 1906-08 deal mainly with the settlement in South Africa and the vindication of free trade; those of 1908-09 project various social reforms and attack the Conservatives, the rich vested interests, and the land speculators; the last group of speeches defends Lloyd George’s radical ‘People’s Budget’ of 1909 and assails the House of Lords in the constitutional crisis between the two houses which the budget caused…
“If [Mr. Brodrick’s Army and For Free Trade] contain interesting, lucid, clearly structured, sometimes brilliant orations on somewhat dated topics, Liberalism is a broadranging survey of modern social problems; the issues it discusses are still being fought out today. Its imagery, fervor, rhetoric, variety, compassion, and wit and its careful delineation of the course between the Scylla of Tory reaction and Charybdis of socialism make it a classic exposition of the pragmatic political basis for the Liberal or progressive Conservative outlook….”
-Manfred Weidhorn in Sword and Pen: A Survey of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974
Of interest is the title page, where the author’s name, WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL, represents the last use of the full Spencer (now unhyphenated) in first editions of Churchill’s works.
Liberalism and the Social Problem ranks among the most important Churchill speech volumes. Unfortunately, the first edition is exceedingly rare and, while most Churchill firsts have come down in price over the last five years, scarcity is maintaining Liberalism prices at a high level. As to jacketed copies, the only complete one known to exist was bought in London in 1985 for £100, resold in 1990 for $3,500, and is today worth at least six times that much.
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Cohen A29.1.a / ICS A15a
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1909
Burgundy cloth. The top board bears the gilt signature “Winston S. Churchill.” The spine bears the title, byline (“THE RT. HON. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL M.P.” and publisher’s name. 8vo, 438 pages numbered (i)-xxiv and (1)-414. Introduction by Hugh Massingham. The verso of the half-title contains a boxed advert for My African Journey. Endpapers are white. Published at 3 shillings sixpence.
Quantities and Impressions
Woods states that a single impression of 5000 copies was published on 26 December 1909. However, he fails to mention a second impression which followed in 1910 (see below). Woods is also inaccurate in describing a misdated speech on page 277 as “May 3, 1903″—on every copy we have seen, this speech is dated (also incorrectly) “May 4, 1909.” The actual date of this speech was May 3, 1909, and the “correction” made in the second impression was, as noted below, also incorrect.
Dust Jackets and Variants
Printed grey on thin white paper, the rarely seen dust jacket bears a Russell & Sons boxed photo of the author (same as on The People’s Rights, less snugly cropped), title and byline on the cover and the title, author’s name, publisher and “3/6 net” on the spine. All type is dropped out white. The flaps and back face are blank.
There are no variations although Ronald Cohen reports a publisher’s “Advance Copy” so designated in blind on the top board.
Cohen A29.1.b / ICS A15b
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1909
Unmentioned by Woods, this is identical in appearance to the First Edition, with the following exceptions: 1) The title page contains the words “SECOND EDITION” about 1 1/4″ below the author’s name but retains the MCMIX date, even though it seems unlikely that this impression could have been off the press in 1909. 2) The date of the speech on page 277 has been corrected to read “May 4, 1903.” Unfortunately, they had it wrong again—the correct date was 3 May 1909. Nevertheless, this and the title page make identification of the second impression easy. Despite its title page proclamation, this volume is recognized by Ronald Cohen as a second printing, not a second edition, since it involves no resetting of plates.
The Second Impression is quite a bit less common than the First, although when it is offered, prices are more modest, averaging about half or less than First Editions in comparable condition.
First American Issue
Cohen A29.2 / ICS A15c
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, New York, 1910
Burgundy cloth without the gilt cover signature; the spine author’s name is a plain “WINSTON S. CHURCHILL.” Woods (page 44) states that this issue was published at $1.50 on 5 February 1910 by “Doubleday, Doran.” The publisher’s name is an error, since Doubleday and Doran were not partners until almost two decades later and the book is plainly published by Hodder & Stoughton’s American office. Though Hodder & Stoughton were minor shareholders in the George Doran company (his imprint appeared on the third state of the American My African Journey), Doran had no involvement with Liberalism and the Social Problem, nor did he publish any other Churchill titles, although his connection with Hodder & Stoughton lasted sixteen years. The American Issue apparently uses sheets from, or was pressed from, plates of the English First Edition, since page 277 contains the original date error (see above) and American issues carry that same advert for My African Journey (priced at 5 shillings) as the English.
Thanks to America’s drier climate this volume tends to hold up better than its English counterparts; one rarely encounters spotted pages or boards. The most common fault is rub marks at the corners of spine extremities. Though much scarcer than the English First, the American Issue commands a lower price because it is not a true First Edition. This volume is prized by collectors who like to have the First Editions from each of Churchill’s “motherlands.”
Second American Issue
Cohen A29.3 / ICS A15d
Publisher: Haskell House Publishers Ltd., New York, 1973
Unnoted by Woods, this modern offprint from the Second English Issue bears the same distinguishing characteristics of the latter but is about 1″ taller and 1/2″ wider, and differently bound: rust brown cloth blocked black on the spine, or grey cloth blocked gilt for a second impression or remainder binding published in 1985. In each case the title (on two lines) and author’s name (WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL) read horizontally down the spine; the house logo and publisher’s imprint appear vertically at the spine bottom. There were no dust jackets.
While in print, Haskell House issues were budget alternatives to the early editions, but scarcity has forced their prices up sharply lately.
Combined Issue from the “Collected Works”
Collectors should be aware of this product of leftover sheets from Volume VII of the Library of Imperial History’s 1974-75. This work is entitled (cover and title page): MR | BRODRICK’S | ARMY AND OTHER EARLY SPEECHES | FOR FREE TRADE | LIBERALISM AND THE SOCIAL PROBLEM | THE PEOPLE’S RIGHTS | INDIA. The spine reads, somewhat misleadingly, FIVE EARLY SPEECHES with the author’s name WINSTON S. CHURCHILL. Later bindings may read simply EARLY SPEECHES. The text of all five works is entirely reset and the pages (516 plus introductory matter) are numbered consecutively.
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