The Official Biography

The Official Biography by Randolph Churchill (vols 1,2) and Martin Gilbert is now at 24 volumes the longest biography ever written (per Guinness Book of Records) and still not complete, with a further 7 companion or document volumes in process for the period 1942-1965. All of the 8 main text volumes are now out of print, and prices are rising, with demand outstripping supply. The last price when in print was £45.00 ( about $84.00) per volume. All companion volumes are now out of print. Companions to vol 5 are long out of print and constantly requested. Companion Vol V part 3 sold new for £75.00, so this high price kept print runs small ( c. 2500) The 'companion" volumes to Volume VI (1939-1941) have been published in 3 volumes entitled THE CHURCHILL WAR PAPERS. All 3 are now out of print and the prices for the Heinemann (UK) editions are high and rising.


1st published
no. of companions


For the first five volumes, there are two editions available, the American, from Houghton Mifflin; and the British, from Heinemann. Contents are the same, but the binding is different. The British editions are bound in maroon sailcloth with solid colour dustwrappers as shown in the above photo. The American editions have a two colour binding with a linen spine and blue sides. The American dustwrappers are similar in style to the English but in different colours, as shown below right. The final 3 volumes have three varieties. the British publisher produced "uniform" editions which matched the first five volumes with maroon sailcloth bindings and solid colour dustwrapper at a price £5.00 higher than the "popular" edition which have cheaper bindings in different shades and a pictorial dustwrapper with black spine, as shown below right. As you would expect, most buyers opted for the cheaper popular edition when published, and now all the collectors want the better uniform edition. The result is a 3-to-1 or more price differential. The American publisher switched to a pictorial dustwrapper with white spines for the final three volumes, so it is not possible to have a truly uniform set of American editions. All 8 main volumes were also briefly offered in thick unabridged paperbacks in 1990's, as shown in the center picture below.



Complete sets in all three styles, as well as the companion volumes and WAR PAPERS are normally held in stock. Sets are usually sold in either the 8 Main text volumes, or sets of 21 with the 13 companion volumes included. The war papers are usually considered additions.