The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War. Winston S. Churchill.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War
The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War
The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War

The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War

London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1899. Hardcover. This is the first printing of the Silver Library edition of Churchill's first book. The Story of the Malakand Field Force recounts Churchill's experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. Publication of the first edition of 1898 was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors. Churchill was incensed by the errors and acted with haste to address them. Hence later states of the first edition bear errata slips

In part because of the errors in the first edition which so vexed Churchill, the publisher also issued a second edition less than a year after the first in January 1899. This Silver Library edition was the first to incorporate the author's corrections in the text, making this an important and highly collectable edition. Unfortunately, the maroon boards proved highly susceptible to fading and wear, the paper easily browned and became brittle, and the binding often cracked.

This first Silver Library edition, first printing - one of just 1,440 copies – is in very good condition. Shelf presentation is superior for the edition; the spine retains particularly strong color and bright gilt with almost no discernible color shift between the covers and spine – a rarity. The binding is square and tight, showing modest overall mottling of the color and light wear to extremities. The contents remain comparatively bright for the edition, the age-toning light for the edition. The distinctive swan and ship endpapers are intact, as are the frontispiece, tissue guard, and maps. Spotting is light within, primarily confined to the prelims and page edges. The sole previous ownership mark is an inked owner name dated “1899.” on the front free endpaper verso.

When this book was written and published, Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. While he had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail - this was his first book-length work. The young Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily."

Having invested his ambition in this first book, he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day." The finished manuscript was sent to his mother on the last day of 1897 and published on 14 March of 1898.

Reference: Cohen A1.3.a, Woods/ICS A1(ba.1), Langworth p.20. Item #004371

Price: $760.00

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