Item #005524 London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book. Winston S. Churchill.
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book

London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, inscribed and dated by Churchill on 12 August 1900 during his first successful campaign for Parliament, just 23 days after Churchill's return from South Africa, and accompanied by a typed, hand-emended, and signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of the book

London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1900. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. On 12 August 1900, during his first successful campaign for Parliament, Winston Churchill inscribed and dated this remarkable presentation copy of the first edition, first printing to the recipient. It was a highly relevant gift. First, the book – Churchill’s fourth – recounts the daring, dramatic escape that made Churchill a war hero and propelled his first election victory a month and a half after he inscribed this copy. Second, it was gifted in thanks for the recipient’s help on a Sunday with the young candidate’s overwhelming accumulation of correspondence. This inscribed presentation copy is accompanied by a typed, signed presentation letter from Churchill specifically explaining the gift of this book.

Winston Churchill’s political career would last two thirds of a century, see him occupy Cabinet office during each of the first six decades of the twentieth century, carry him twice to the premiership and, further still, into the annals of history as a preeminent statesman and icon of resolute leadership. But when then-25-year-old Winston Churchill inscribed this book, his only career was that of an itinerant cavalry officer and war correspondent, laboring to win his first seat in Parliament and, as this book testifies, making sure to thank those who aided his as-yet-unrealized ambition.

Signed, first edition copies of Churchill’s early works are quite scarce. A copy thus – inscribed, dated, contemporary, to a known recipient, and with definitive provenance – is a compellingly rare prize.

The inscription and letter

Churchill inscribed this book in four lines on the half-title recto:
“To John Mansfield Esq. | from | Winston S. Churchill | August 12th 1900”

The accompanying hand-emended and signed presentation letter is typed on a single sheet of laid, watermarked paper measuring 8 x 10 inches and printed with Churchill’s mother’s address, “35 A, GREAT CUMBERLAND PLACE, | W.” The typed date is “August 14th, 1900. In three paragraphs, the letter reads:
“Dear Mr. Mansfield,
The Letters are all right. It is very kind of you to have taken so much trouble to have written them for me.
I don’t know what I should have done if the accumulation had run on for two or three more days.
I fear I was the thoughtless cause of spoiling your fine Sunday. Will you accept, as a small recognition of the assistance you have been to me, a copy of my book about the Boer War, which I forward with this letter?”

The word “for” in the second paragraph, as well as the question mark at the end of the third paragraph, are both hand-emended.

The valediction and signature are likewise in Churchill’s hand: “Yours vy truly | Winston S. Churchill”

The moment

Churchill inscribed this book 23 days after he returned from the Boer War in South Africa and 50 days before his first election to Parliament.

Churchill was campaigning the day he inscribed this copy of London to Ladysmith via Pretoria. The same day – 12 August 1900 – Churchill wrote to his mother “I must concentrate all of my efforts upon Oldham. I’m going to have a thorough campaign from the 20th to the 23rd of this month, speaking at 2 or 3 meetings every night…” Electioneering apparently lasted longer than Churchill planned; on 27 August the Prince of Wales wrote to Churchill “…You are I suppose busy electioneering…”

Nearly all of the accomplishments that made Churchill an indelible part of history lay ahead of him when he inscribed this book. His experience in South Africa was a critical catalyst in his transformation from itinerant, adventure-seeking young cavalry officer and war correspondent into an enduring fixture in British political life.

In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted between the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa and the British. Churchill 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. A month later Churchill made a daring and improbable escape, making his way to Durban via Portuguese East Africa with the Boers literally offering reward for his capture “dead or alive”. Churchill’s intrepid ordeal made him a celebrity.

Earlier that year, in July 1899, Churchill stood as a Conservative at the Oldham by-election – and was defeated in his first attempt at Parliament. His Boer War experience and celebrity changed his prospects. As Arthur Balfour (who became Prime Minister in 1902) put it in a 30 August 1900 letter, the young Churchill had had “fresh opportunities - admirably taken advantage of – for shewing the public of what stuff you are made.” These “fresh opportunities” brought Churchill victory in the so-called "khaki election" of October 1900.

It compels the imagination to think of this book being signed by the young Churchill while he was campaigning for this first seat in Parliament. All British politics yet knew of Churchill was his father, Randolph’s, failings, and the young Winston’s embryonic ambition. Churchill had proven himself in battle and in print, but not on the hustings. The parliamentary career that began 50 days after he inscribed this book would span the Boer War to the Cold War, with two world wars in between, and see the world of imperial cavalry charges recounted in his early books almost inconceivably yield to the world of new global superpowers and nuclear weapons.

The recipient and Churchill’s stay at Howick Hall

Churchill sent this inscribed book and accompanying letter to John Henry Mansfield (1865-1932), the estate agent for Howick Hall, home of Churchill’s host, Earl Grey. The letter indicates Churchill’s thanks for Mansfield’s help with a daunting “accumulation” of correspondence by writing letters for Churchill on a “fine Sunday” (Sunday, 12 August 1900 – the date of the book’s inscription).

Mansfield was presumably suited to the task, both professionally and by inclination. In the years following Churchill’s visit to Howick Hall, Mansfield became an active member of the Royal Colonial Institute and secretary of the Alnwick local committee. Churchill would speak to the Royal Colonial Institute in London several times in his career, including serving as Chairman of the 5th Ordinary General Meeting of the Institute in a 1908 debate about East Africa. Mansfield went on to serve as chairman of the Alnwick council (where one of his duties was notifying the community when one of their own was killed in battle) and serving on the Alnwick tribunals for conscientious objectors during the First World War, to determine whether a person was legitimately objecting under military guidelines.

In writing to his mother from Howick Hall on 12 August 1900, Churchill indicated some of the pressures he was facing in the run up to the Oldham election. “I have an enormous number of invitations to speak for people about the country but have had, steadily, to refuse them, with the exception of Plymouth on the 17th of this month and Staly Bridge on the 28th of September.” The letters conveying these refusals were likely part of the work with which Mansfield assisted.

Churchill’s stay at Howick Hall was brief, but evidently both productive and perhaps even a mild respite. He described his visit to Earl Grey’s ancestral home thus: “Then I came on here, travelling all night, a very uncomfortable journey across country; and yesterday we had a meeting in the runs of Warkworth Castle, which, altho it was not a very important affair, went off very well.” The Warkworth Castle event was the August 11th annual fete for the Conservative and Unionist Associations of Newcastle-on-Tyne where Churchill spoke. Churchill continued “I am speaking at Oldham Monday night & travel thither from here tomorrow morning early. After some days of wet and cold the sun is shining very brightly, and this pretty place with its beautiful flower garden is very pleasant to live in.”

Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Early Grey (1851-1917), Churchill’s host at Howick, was also heavily involved with the Royal Colonial Institute, serving as one of several vice presidents at the time Mansfield became a member, and later as its president. He was both a British nobleman and a politician, who served as a Liberal MP in the 1880s and took his place in the House of Lords in 1894, when he inherited the Earldom. Grey was one of the founders of the Imperial Federation League, which sought to transform the British Empire into an Imperial Federation. Grey became Governor General of Canada in 1904, serving until 1911.

Edition and condition

London to Ladysmith via Pretoria is the first of Churchill's two books based on his newspaper despatches sent from the front in South Africa. The book contains 27 letters and telegrams to the Morning Post written between 26 October 1899 and 10 March 1900. It was published in England on 16 May 1900 - less than three months before this copy was inscribed - and sold well. This British first edition is striking, bound in tan cloth with an illustration of an armoured train on the front cover accompanied by the author's facsimile signature and with the Union flag and Transvaal flag in gilt on the spine beneath a red subtitle. The binding is visually arresting, but the first edition proved notoriously fragile and prone to wear, soiling, and spotting. Truly fine copies are virtually a chimera.

This inscribed presentation copy approaches very good condition. The binding is square, tight, and clean. The binding is lightly soiled, though only appreciably on the blank rear cover, and the spine is not toned, with both the gilt and red subtitle distinct. The binding shows light wear to extremities, some fraying along the front joint, and a little wrinkling to the spine cloth. The contents are particularly bright and clean for the edition and retain a crisp feel. We find no previous ownership marks other than the author’s inscription. Especially impressive for the edition, there is no spotting. The original black endpapers are intact with no sign of cracking at the gutters. All maps and plans are present, including the folding maps at the title page and p.366. The rear catalogue is dated “10/99” (rather than “’7/00”), indicating this is one of the earlier bound copies.

The book is housed in a full red Morocco goatskin Solander case featuring a rounded, hubbed spine, the spine bands gilt rule framed and gilt decorated, the covers with gilt rule borders, the interior lined with red velvet. Condition of the case is as-new, with no reportable wear, soiling, blemishes, or fading.

The typed, hand-emended, and signed letter from Churchill is complete, with no loss or tears, despite significant soiling and staining, particularly to the upper and right edges. The letter has three horizontal creases and one vertical crease, ostensibly from original posting.

The letter is housed in a clear, removable, archival sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder.

While the letter and book together provide self-evident provenance, we can also share that the book and letter were sold by the great grandchild of the recipient, John Mansfield.

Reference: Cohen A4.1.a, Woods/ICS A4(a.1), Langworth p.53. Item #005524

Price: $25,000.00

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