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THE GATHERING STORM
-Signed First American Edition Presentation Copy Inscribed to Winston Churchill’s Daughter Mary and her New Husband, Christopher, “From Papa”-
First American Edition
Houghton Mifflin Company [Boston]
Biblio: (Cohen A240.1[I].a) (Woods A123aa)
8vo (Maps, diagrams and tables throughout.)
Hardcover [Red cloth]
Item Number: 16069
The Second World War, also known as Winston Churchill’s War Memoirs, won Churchill the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. Published in six volumes that appeared over six years, the books each came out first in the U.S. under the following titles: THE GATHERING STORM (Volume I/1948), THEIR FINEST HOUR (Volume II/1949), THE GRAND ALLIANCE (Volume III/1950), THE HINGE OF FATE (Volume IV/1950), CLOSING THE RING (Volume V/1951) and TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY (Volume VI/1953).
The ensuing English editions, issued within months of the American, contained numerous corrections and even a few additional maps. The English edition is therefore considered more definitive, though today the American edition may be rarer. The set was simultaneously published by the Book-of-the-Month-Club in America, printed on the same presses as the first editions, and thus can easily be confused with them. An excellent one-volume abridgment was published in 1959; largely the work of Churchill’s research assistant, Denis Kelly, though Churchill did contribute an interesting epilogue covering the years 1945-1957.
Nothing in the realm of Churchillian first editions is more precious than a book inscribed by Winston Churchill to a member of his immediate family. Here is one such prize, a First American edition copy, in dust jacket, of THE GATHERING STORM – the first volume in Churchill’s six-volume memoirs of the Second World War – inscribed on the front free endpaper to his youngest daughter, Mary, and to her then-new husband, Christopher Soames:”To Mary and Christopher, from Papa 1948”
The book exhibits noticeable shelf wear to the cloth and moisture appears to have caused the ink inscription to smear just a bit but the contents are fine and the dust jacket, though edge-chipped and age-darkened, is intact and unclipped. The book is here preserved in a stunning, purpose-built, quarter-burgundy leather clamshell solander.
MARY SPENCER-CHURCHILL (Lady Mary Soames) was the youngest of Winston and Clementine Churchill’s five children, born 15 September 1922. She married Christopher Soames on 11 February 1947 at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. Soames was at that time Assistant Military Attache in Paris. Educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, before being gazetted 2nd Lieutenant Coldstream Guards in 1939, Soames had served throughout the war in the Middle East, Italy and France, attaining the rank of Captain in 1942. He would become an intimate companion to his father-in-law, even contributing notes to the writing of Churchill’s Second World War memoirs. “I should like to have your narrative of the Battle as you saw it with the Cold Stream,” Churchill wrote to Soames on 11 November 1948, “…I send you a few papers from my own secret file…These you might look into…to refresh your memory.”
THE GATHERING STORM was the initial volume in a history that would help gain Churchill a Nobel Prize for literature. Published first in the United States, it was officially issued on 21 June 1948, though Churchill is known to have received his first copies off the presses about three weeks prior. This particular presentation must have given him enormous pleasure. Mary had been his steadfast traveling companion during and after the war, and her own young family would grow up beside him at Chartwell. Fascinatingly, the book also contains copious penciled endnotes in Mary Soames’ hand covering the rear free endpaper and pastedown. The notes relate to the first five chapters of the book, commencing with “Papa’s” post-World War I career “After 1918,” and concluding with the “General Election of June 1935.”