A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission

A Roving Commission

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the U.S. first edition, first printing of Churchill's extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. This is a very good copy in a very good first printing dust jacket. Published in England as My Early Life, this is one of the few Churchill first editions for which the U.S. edition bears a different title than the British. Interestingly, A Roving Commission was the title proposed by Churchill himself and favored by his American publisher. One can hardly ask for more adventurous content. These were momentous and formative years for Churchill, including his time as a war correspondent and cavalry officer in theatres as varied as Cuba, northwest India, and sub-Saharan and southern Africa. This time contained a wide range of experiences in Churchill’s life. Not only was he developing as an author, publishing his first books, and making his first lecture tour of North America, but this was also the time of his capture and daring escape during the Boer War, which made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career. Churchill would take his seat in Parliament only weeks after the end of Queen Victoria's reign. A Roving Commission remains one of the most popular and widely read of all Churchill's books. And for good reason, as the work certainly ranks among the most charming and accessible of his many books. An original 1930 review likened it to a "beaker of Champagne." That effervescent charm endures; a more recent writer called it "a racy, humorous, self-deprecating classic of autobiography." To be sure, Churchill takes some liberties with facts and perhaps unduly lightens or over-simplifies certain events, but this is eminently forgivable and in keeping with the wit, pace, and engaging style that characterizes the book. The book sold very well at the time and has seen a great many editions since, many of them collectible in their own right, but of course a premium attaches to first editions, both British and U.S. Jacketed copies of the U.S. first edition are scarce. Even decent unjacketed copies are unusual. The red-orange cloth binding proved highly susceptible to fading and soiling and the thin, fragile dust jacket proved highly vulnerable to wear and severe fading of the orange color, particularly on the jacket spine. This first printing (confirmed by the Scribner’s “A” on the copyright page) features a strikingly bright and soundly tight binding with sharp corners and no appreciable wear. The beautifully bright spine is marred only by modest moisture stains to the lower spine (which correspond to similar stains on the jacket spine, definitively confirming that this book has spent life with this jacket). The contents are remarkably bright with no spotting, toning, or previous ownership marks. Even the untrimmed fore edges are improbably bright and clean. Modest dust soiling is confined to the top edge. The first printing dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original “$3.50” front flap price and retains respectably distinct orange spine panel color, far less faded than typical. We note a shallow strip loss at the spine head (that does not affect title print) a .75 x .5 inch chip at the upper rear panel, fractional chips at the spine heel and flap corners, and some light moisture staining to the lower spine. Despite the wear and mild soiling, this remains a bright and quite respectable example of an increasingly elusive first printing dust jacket. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A91.2.a, Woods/ICS A37(b.1), Langworth p. 134. Item #005181

Price: $900.00

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