London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1910. Paperback. This is the 1910 vintage pulp paperback, the so-called "First Cheap Edition." This particular copy is noteworthy for both superior condition and colonial provenance. My African Journey is Churchill's travelogue on Britain's possessions in East Africa, written while he was serving as Undersecretary of State for the Colonies. 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 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. In 1910, just sixteen months after the first edition, the publisher issued a so-called "First Cheap Edition" produced in vintage "pulp" style. The text is arranged in a 92-page, two-column format with a few pages of advertisements at either end. This handsome paperback edition features a color illustration on the front cover similar to that of the first edition, with Churchill in pith helmet with binoculars around his neck and a rifle in his hands standing beside a dead white rhinoceros. Some 20,000 copies were produced (80 percent sold domestically and 20 percent shipped for export), but given the fragility of the edition, few survive today. And those that do are usually in poor condition - befitting a century-old cheap paperback.
This copy is a wonderful exception. Moreover, it is clearly one of the 20 percent of copies shipped for export. Both the front cover and first page of text bear the same Auckland, New Zealand bookseller ink stamp and this copy came to us from the antipodes. The wraps binding is unusually bright and complete. All the spine print is intact and clearly legible. We note only minor wear to extremities, with only fractional chips to the spine ends and upper rear cover. Light soiling is confined to the rear cover adjacent to the spine. The contents are toned, as is inevitable for pulp paper of this age, but considerably less browned and brittle than nearly any other copy we have encountered. We find no spotting and no previous ownership marks. This is among the very best copies we have ever seen and all the more remarkable for the fact that it is among the few survivors of those 20 percent designated for export.
Reference: Cohen A27.8, Woods/ICS A12(b), Langworth p.85. Item #004803