Churchill’s Collected Works

Churchill’s Collected Works


Can you direct me to a set of the “Col­lect­ed Works” of Win­ston Churchill? I sus­pect they are pricey and rare. So how do I build a col­lec­tion of Churchill at a rea­son­able price? —G.S., Maine, USA

Collected Works and Essays

You refer to the Col­lect­ed Works of Sir Win­ston Churchill, 40 vol­umes includ­ing four vol­umes of Col­lect­ed Essays. It was pub­lished by the Library of Impe­r­i­al His­to­ry in Lon­don in 1974-75. (The Diner’s Club pro­duced anoth­er col­lec­tion of Major Works, but they were not complete.)

These books are dis­cussed else­where on this web­site, and in my Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Win­ston Churchill.

The “Col­lect­ed Works” are expen­sive reprints. Nice sets of Churchill’s books can be put togeth­er with trade edi­tions for much less, and the Churchill spe­cial­ist book­sellers have a broad listing.

Pros and cons

Nowa­days hard­ly any­one can afford the Col­lect­ed Works. Dubbed the “Cen­te­nary Lim­it­ed Edi­tion,” some 2000 sets were pub­lished in bla­tant pur­suit of lucre. The sto­ry (recount­ed here­in) is dis­ap­point­ing. Orig­i­nals were bound in vel­lum, which tends to swell and warp, mak­ing them hard to remove from their slipcases.

In the 1990s I found and began bind­ing sev­er­al hun­dred remain­ing sheets in leather as well as vel­lum, but those too are now out of sight. Also, the gen­er­al edi­tor of the series, the late Fred Woods, edit­ed many of the texts (mak­ing changes dis­cussed in detail in the Connoisseur’s Guide), which makes them use­less as a source of Churchill’s orig­i­nal words.

The great advan­tage of the enter­prise was the four-vol­ume Col­lect­ed Essays, the only col­lec­tion of Churchill’s peri­od­i­cal arti­cles (oth­er than those reprint­ed in his books) ever pub­lished in vol­ume form, with a fine intro­duc­tion by the late Michael Wolff.

Owing to pop­u­lar demand the Essays were also issued in a half-blue leather “Cen­te­nary Edi­tion,” which was sold sep­a­rate­ly. Sets some­times sur­face in that form, but the Essays were nev­er reprint­ed, and demand is high, forc­ing prices up accord­ing­ly. Alas, though I’ve tried to inter­est the pub­lish­ers of lim­it­ed edi­tions from Eas­t­on Press to the Folio Soci­ety in reprint­ing the set, none has ever bit­ten the bullet.

Further reading

“The Sor­did His­to­ry of Churchill’s Col­lect­ed Works,” 2023.

“Churchill’s Col­lect­ed Essays, Invalu­ably Com­piled by Michael Wolff,” 2023.

6 thoughts on “Churchill’s Collected Works

  1. I’m look­ing for a copy of ‘Churchill Abroad’..from the Col­lec­tion of Essays.

  2. Sad­ly, many fine old Churchill col­lec­tions are being dis­man­tled today, as those of his time leave us, and except for fine first edi­tions, they are not worth what they once were. Full sets of the Col­lect­ed Works and Essays do have val­ue. If you wish to give them to an insti­tu­tion, con­sid­er a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty that still teach­es his­to­ry (my own col­lec­tion goes to Hills­dale, but I am sure there are wor­thy insti­tu­tions in South Africa. If you wish to dis­pose of them com­mer­cial­ly, con­tact the Spe­cial­ist book­sellers Marc Kuritz ( or Bar­ry Singer, Chartwell Book­sellers (

  3. Hel­lo, I have just found this essay and con­ver­sa­tion as I look to dis­man­tle the beau­ti­ful old library of my grand­fa­ther in Cape Town which includes an immac­u­late com­plete set of The Col­lect­ed Works of Win­ston Churchill, calf bound (I am told).
    Although this, and hun­dreds of oth­er love­ly books, are trea­sured as part of my grandfather’s lega­cy, I am won­der­ing what to do with them, and whether you could per­haps suggest?

  4. Steve, Try Churchill Book Spe­cial­ist book­sellers Marc Kuritz ( and Bar­ry Singer, Chartwell Book­sellers ( Be advised, though, that except for fine ear­ly first edi­tion the Churchill book mar­ket is not what it was and prices are gen­er­al­ly lowe. The Col­lect­ed Works, how­ev­er, is still bring­ing hefty prices.

  5. I have a col­lec­tion of mil­i­tary his­to­ry books con­tem­po­rary and rare that were col­lect­ed by my father Roy Sower­by. The col­lec­tion includes mint first edi­tion of Churchill’s col­lect­ed works pub­lished in 1973 – 1976. The com­plete col­lec­tion is avail­able for sale as one lot as I want them to go to a good home togeth­er. Would you know of a spe­cial­ist book store or col­lec­tor that might be inter­est­ed in this very per­son­al col­lec­tion? Thank you for your help.

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