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Marlborough: His Life and Times, full set of four British first edition, first printings in dust jackets
London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1933. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. Near fine/Very good . This is a collector-worthy full set of four British first edition, first printings in first printing dust jackets. Churchill's monumental biography of his great ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, was initially conceived a full 40 years before publication of the fourth and final volume. Churchill originally considered the idea of the biography in 1898, returning to it in earnest in 1928. Marlborough ultimately took 10 years of research and writing and is the most substantial published work of Churchill's "wilderness years" in the 1930s. The final volume was published on the eve of the Second World War in 1938. Richard Langworth says "To understand the Churchill of the Second World War, the majestic blending of his commanding English with historical precedent, one has to read Marlborough." The work was very well received, both critically and aesthetically. The first edition is a physically impressive production. The books measure 9.25 x 6.25 inches and are roughly 2 inches thick. Each is bound in plum cloth with beveled edges, the Marlborough coat of arms gilt on the front cover, and a gilt top edge. Moreover, each volume is profusely illustrated. Unfortunately, the plum cloth binding in Volumes I-III proved highly susceptible to sun fading. (A different, more fade-resistant dye was used in Volume IV.) Without the dust jackets, Volumes I-III are nearly always spine faded and jacketed first editions are now scarce. Particularly scarce are first printing dust jackets for Volumes I & II. We caution collectors to be wary of price-clipped dust jackets, as later impression Volume I & II dust jackets state either "2nd Impression" or "3rd Impression" printed next to the price on the lower front flap. No such problem applies to Volumes III & IV, which each had only a single printing. This full, four-volume British first edition set features volumes in near-fine or better condition with the accompanying dust jackets in very good plus or better condition. All four dust jackets retain the original front flap prices. The absence of either price-clipping or later impression notation on the lower Volume I & II front flaps definitively confirms first printing status. Moreover, this is a lifelong matched set. The sole previous ownership in each volume is the recurrence of either the same previous owner name or personal library numerical notation, each dated in the year of publication. These appear respectively on the ffep in Volumes I-III and the rear pastedown on Volume IV. Spine presentation and overall condition of the dust jackets makes this set superior to most jacketed first printing sets. All four dust jackets are highly complete, with only fractional chipping at the spine ends. The sole loss of note in the set is 1 x .5 inch at the upper front corner of Volume I. The jacket spines are toned, but evenly so across all four volumes, befitting a set that has remained intact since publication. All four dust jackets are fitted with removable, archival quality clear covers. All four volumes beneath the jackets feature clean, tight, and square bindings with nicely rounded spines, bright gilt, sharp corners, and virtually no wear. The complete dust jackets have done their job and spared the bindings from the typical sunning. Only a tiny spot at the upper rear hinge of Volume II shows mild sunning corresponding to a jacket chip loss. The contents of all four volumes are crisp, bright, and tight. All four volumes feel unread. The top edge gilt remains bright. Very light spotting appears limited to prelims and fore edges in volumes II-IV, with Volume I spotting a bit heavier to the fore edge, but internally affecting only the half-title, frontispiece, and title page. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A97.2(I-IV).a, Woods/ICS A40(aa); Langworth p.166
      [Bookseller: Churchill Book Collector]
Last Found On: 2013-12-03           Check availability:      Biblio    

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