London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1900. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the British first edition, first printing of Churchill's fifth published book. Ian Hamilton's March was the second of Churchill's two books based on his newspaper despatches sent from the front in South Africa during the Boer War. In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted between the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa and the British. Churchill, an adventure-seeking young cavalry officer and war correspondent, swiftly found himself in South Africa with the 21st Lancers and an assignment as press correspondent to the Morning Post. Not long thereafter, on 15 November 1899, Churchill was captured during a Boer ambush of an armored train. His daring escape less than a month later rendered him a celebrity and helped launch his political career.
Churchill's first book of Boer War despatches, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria was published in England in mid-May 1900 and sold well. Ian Hamilton's March completes Churchill's coverage of the Boer War, publishing 17 letters to the Morning Post, spanning 31 March through 14 June 1900. The narrative in Ian Hamilton's March includes the liberation of the Pretoria prison camp where Churchill had been held. Though a companion and sequel to London to Ladysmith, it is notably different in appearance, content, and scarcity. The first printing saw only 5,000 copies - half as many copies as London to Ladysmith. Where Ladysmith bore a lavishly illustrated binding, Ian Hamilton's March was bound in red cloth matching the style of Churchill's first published book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force - fitting, as these were the first and last Churchill first editions published by Longmans, Green, and Co.
While London to Ladysmith via Pretoria had swiftly published Churchill's dispatches in the wake of his capture and escape, for Ian Hamilton's March "the texts of the originally published letters were more extensively revised and four letters were included which had never appeared in periodical form" (Cohen, A8.1.a, Vol. I, p.105). Churchill effected these revisions while on board the passenger and cargo steamer Dunottar Castle which was requisitioned as a troop ship, en route home to England. Arriving home from South Africa in July 1900, Churchill spent the summer campaigning hard in Oldham, where he won his first seat in Parliament on 1 October 1900 in the so-called "khaki election". This British first edition of Ian Hamilton's March was published just a few weeks later.
This first edition, first printing is in very good condition. The tight and square binding is unusually bright and clean for the edition, with vivid color and gilt, superior spine presentation, and only minor wear to extremities. The cosmetic flaw that prevents our grading - and pricing - this copy higher is faint evidence that something was once taped across the lower spine. The discoloration is barely discernible on the spine and rear cover, only readily noticeable as a 2 x .75 inch strip of mild discoloration to the lower front cover. This would be consistent with an ex-library spine label, except for the fact that there are absolutely no ex-library markings. The only previous ownership marks are the decorative bookplate of "Aubrey P. Taylor" affixed to the front pastedown and the same name ("A. P. Taylor") inked to the half title with the date "1900". The contents remain bright with a crisp feel. All maps and plans are intact, as is the original frontispiece and tissue guard, as well as the original black endpapers. Moderate spotting appears substantially confined to the prelims and page edges.
Reference: Cohen A8.1.a, Woods/ICS A5(a), Langworth p.59. Item #003269