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The Second World War, with Churchill's Volume I inscription in the year of publication to the Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, "the parish church of the House of Commons"
London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This full set of jacketed British first editions of The Second World War features a Volume I inscription in the year of publication to the Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, "the parish church of the House of Commons." The five-line half-title inscription reads: "Inscribed for | Canon Charles Smyth | by | Winston S. Churchill | 1948". Canon Charles Smyth (1903-1987) was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, a distinguished Church historian, and Anglican priest. Brilliant, at Cambridge Smyth took a double first in the history tripos and won the Thirwall Medal and the Gladstone Prize, also securing (on the same day as R.A. Butler), a fellowship at his college. Smyth was just 23 when his first book was published, and was ordained in 1929. In 1946, Smyth was in his early forties when the Crown appointed him Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster. Next to Westminster Abbey and opposite the Houses of Parliament, St. Margaret's has been known as the "parish church of the House of Commons." Churchill married at St. Margaret's in 1908, and, on VE day in 1945, he led members of the House of Commons in procession to St. Margaret's for a thanksgiving service. In 1947, with Smyth as Rector, Churchill's youngest daughter, Mary, married Christopher Soames at St. Margaret's. The following year Smyth received this inscribed copy of The Gathering Storm. Smyth's decade-long rectory coincided with Churchill's years as Leader of the Opposition and his second and final premiership. Though, a "somewhat prickly nature stood in the way of his preferment to senior posts" at St. Margaret's, Smyth "proved to be a parish priest of the highest calibre, and in the immediate post-war era large congregations gathered at St. Margaret's on Sunday mornings to hear his erudite sermons which were expressed with great clarity and fine use of the English language." (Daily Telegraph obituary) After resigning from his rectory, Smyth returned to academic endeavors. The Second World War is Churchill's own history of the epic 20th century struggle so indelibly stamped by his leadership. Seldom, if ever, has history endowed a statesman with both singular ability to make history, and singular ability to write it. The six volumes of the British first edition were published between 1948 and 1954. Jacketed British first edition sets in marginal condition are not uncommon. However, the coarse cloth bindings of this edition proved susceptible to soiling and mildew, the contents (printed on post-war "Economy Standards" paper) proved prone to spotting, the red-stained top edges are often severely faded, and the dust jackets are vulnerable to pronounced spine toning. Consequently, superior jacketed sets have become scarce, collector-worthy sets in original bindings with noteworthy inscriptions particularly so. This set is noteworthy for both the inscription and condition. The inscribed Volume I is near fine in a near fine dust jacket; the binding is perfect except for a tiny corner bump, the contents are bright with no ownership marks other than the author's inscription. Modest spotting is confined to the page edges and the top edge shows some uniform sunning. The dust jacket is bright and unclipped, with no losses or tears. The balance of the set is at least near fine in near fine dust jackets. The black cloth bindings are square, clean, and tight clean with bright spine gilt and virtually no wear. The contents are clean with no previous ownership marks, dark red topstain, and trivial spotting confined to the page edges. The dust jackets are complete, unclipped with no losses, and free of the usual spine toning, with bright red spine subtitles. We note only light wear at a few spine ends and a small, red ink mark just above the author's name on the Volume III jacket spine. All six dust jackets are protected with removable, archival quality clear covers. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A240.4(I-VI).a, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264.
      [Bookseller: Churchill Book Collector]
Last Found On: 2015-06-17           Check availability:      Biblio    


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