-Signed First English Edition Set with Presentation Volume Inscribed to Churchill's Valet-


First English Edition Set

By: Winston S. Churchill

Cassell and Co. [London]

Biblio: (Cohen A240.4[I-VI].a) (Woods A123ba)

16mo (Maps, diagrams and tables throughout)

Hardcover in Dust Jackets [Black cloth]

Item Number: 210671

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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 very good set of First English editions in dust jackets is signed in Volume III in ink on the half-title: “Inscribed for Norman McGowan, Winston S. Churchill, 1951.”

NORMAN McGOWAN served as Winston Churchill’s valet from 1949 until retiring in 1952. He subsequently published a memoir, MY YEARS WITH CHURCHILL, in 1958. A First English edition copy of that book (with M[a]cgowan‘s name misspelled on the dust jacket) is included here, preserved in a blue quarter-leather solander (stamped: THE SECOND WORLD WAR / Vol. III on the spine).

Winston Churchill apparently presented his valet with signed copies of other volumes of THE SECOND WORLD WAR; in MY YEARS WITH CHURCHILL there is a photo of Mr. McGowan reading a signed First American edition copy of Volume IV.

The dust jackets of this First English set are exceptionally bright on the faces, and significantly unfaded on the traditionally fade-prone spines. Volume I jacket spine has darkened with age but the spine type is still legible. There is edge-wear at the jacket spine heads of all volumes and Volumes IV-VI are price-clipped. The books are all fine, the black cloth clean and the bindings tight. The red topstains have faded variably, with the exception of very bright Volumes V and VI. The contents are fine, with foxing to the fore-edges only.

A lovely set overall with an intimate provenance.