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-Signed Leatherbound First English Edition - The Property of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


First English Edition

By: Winston S. Churchill

Cassell and Co. [London]

Biblio: (Cohen A240.4[IV].a) (Woods A123ba)

16mo (Maps, diagrams and tables throughout)

Hardcover [Navy blue leather]

Item Number: 19509

Collector's Guide

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.


This handsomely rebound First English edition copy of the HINGE OF FATE (Volume IV in Churchill’s memoirs of the Second World War) was presented by Churchill to the screen star Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., whose elaborate bookplate is affixed to the front pastedown. Churchill signed the book as he only signed to intimates, with his initials: “WC” on the half-title.

DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS,JR. (1909-2000), son of the swashbuckling silent film idol Douglas Fairbanks, became close to Winston Churchill during the war, after enjoying his own great success in Hollywood as a screen star throughout the 1930s. Fairbanks joined the U.S. Navy in April 1941. When his friend Lord Louis Mountbatten formed Britain’s Combined Operations Command to develop and train commando units, Mountbatten requested that Fairbanks join his staff. Fairbanks helped develop diversionary tactics using dummies, phony wireless chatter and smokescreen recordings, and participated in the planning of all COC operations, including the 1942 Dieppe Raid. His relationship with Churchill during his wartime service in England was close and personal. Returning to the U.S., Fairbanks then shared his espionage knowledge by setting up a secret camp in Virginia Beach under the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Forces to train Beach Jumpers, a top-secret troop whose inheritors are today’s U.S. Navy Seals.

The book is in very good condition, rebound in full navy blue morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, all edges gilt, the spine gilt-tooled and lettered in six compartments with raised bands. The spine points are just a trifle roughed, the contents are fine.

A rather special association.