London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This book is from the personal collection of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. This is a very good copy of the British first edition, only printing of My African Journey, Churchill's travelogue on Britain's possessions in East Africa, written while he was serving as Undersecretary of State for the Colonies. This book is notable, among other things, for being the only one of his many books to contain photographs ostensibly taken by the author. In the summer of 1907 Churchill left England for five months, making his way after working stops in southern Europe to Africa for "a tour of the east African domains." In early November, Churchill would kill a rhinoceros, the basis of the striking illustration on the front cover of the British first edition of his eventual book
By now a seasoned and financially shrewd author, Churchill arranged to profit doubly from the trip, first by serializing articles in The Strand Magazine and then by publishing a book based substantially upon them. In November 1908 Hodder and Stoughton published My African Journey as a book, which was a substantial 10,000 words longer than the serialized articles. The British first edition is striking, with a vivid red binding and a prominent front cover bearing a woodcut illustration in blue, grey, and black of Churchill with his bagged white rhinoceros. The red cloth spine proved exceptionally vulnerable to sunning and the lovely books seem to have attracted handling, making wear and soiling the norm. Spotting is also endemic. Truly bright and clean copies are scarce.
Here is a clean copy in very good condition overall. The red cloth binding remains clean with nicely rounded spine, distinct spine gilt, and only slight color shift to the spine, which retains fairly strong red color. Though the binding is notably clean, there is moderate overall wear that shows as minor fraying at the spine ends, and small bumps to the lower corners. There is also loss of some of the black print on the right half of the front cover, affecting the illustration of Churchill, the lower portion of the rhino, and the right side of the title and author print. It is unclear whether this is the result of poor original stamping or wear, given that there is no visible scuffing to the front cover surface.
The contents are quite clean for the edition. A trivial hint of spotting appears confined to the front pastedown, first free endpaper, and fore edge. A single gift inscription inked on the first free endpaper is dated "August - 1st - 1910". The 61 photographs of this edition were tipped in rather than bound, so copies should always be carefully checked to ensure the presence of all illustrations and maps. All illustrations and maps are present in this copy, as is the tissue at the frontispiece. The rear hinge shows a cosmetic split to the gutter paper, but the binding is uncompromised, tight and firm.
Reference: Cohen A27.1, Woods/ICS A12(aa), Langworth p.81. Item #002837