The World Crisis Vols. 1-VI: Signed by the Author Winston Churchill in 5 of 6 Volumes

Posted on Nov 24, 2011

This particular set is the London Thornton Butterworth Ltd. 1923-1931. 5 volumes in 6. All first editions first impressions with the exception of the first volume which is a second impression. The set is significant for the inscriptions from Churchill to Lady Destborough (Ethel “Ettie” Anne Priscilla Fane Grenfell) the wife of 1st Baron Desborough. Five of the Six volumes (volume three is in two parts) are inscribed on different dates by Churchill on the FFEP.

Volume 1: “From Winston May 5th 1923”

Volume II: “To Ettie from Winston Oct 27 1923”

Volume III: “Ettie from Winston 3.3.27”

Volume IV: No inscription as this is the second part of the third volume.

Volume V: To Ettie from Winston 6.3.29”

Volume VI: “Ettie from Winston Nov 6 1931”

6 Volume Set: The World Crisis by Winston Churchill Signed in 5 Volumes by author

It is very unusual to find sets that were signed to the recipient as and when the individual volumes were published. Typically sets are found signed in one volume only or with all the volumes signed on the same date. Five of the six volumes of this set also have the book label of “Taplow” on the rear pastedown; this was the residence of the Desborough’s, where Churchill stayed on several occasions prior to WWI.

William Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough was a political figure and a keen athlete. As an athlete he rowed for Oxford and was president of both the boat club and athletic club at Oxford. He enjoyed fishing, swimming, big game hunting and mountaineering. He climbed the Matterhorn three times, swam the rapids of the Niagara twice and rowed across the English Channel. He was also President of the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Lawn Tennis Association as well as the President of the Amateur Fencing Association and the Olympic Games held in London in 1908.

Ethel (Ettie) Fane, the granddaughter of John Fane the 11th Earl of Westmorland, was orphaned at three. She was beautiful, rich and charming and was friends with the likes of Balfour, Curzon and Churchill from the political field as well as writers such as Kipling, Wells, Sassoon, Yeats and Oscar Wilde who wrote a short story about her titled “The Birthday of the Infanta”.

At age 20 Ettie Fane married William Grenfell. They had three sons and two daughters. The two older sons were killed in the Great War. Julian Grenfell, the oldest son, was badly injured when hit by shrapnel during action near Ypres; he was taken to hospital in Boulogne where he died on 26th May 1915. Shortly after his famous poem Into Battle was published by the Times, it became one of the most popular poems of the War. Billy Grenfell was killed  in the war later that year on July 30th 1915. The third son was killed in a car accident in 1926.

I estimate that this set, with the scarce dust jackets and provenance,  would fetch somewhere in the range of $50,000 at one of the major auction houses. More modest sets of this work can be found from one of the several Churchill specialist dealers or online booksellers.

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