London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1930. First edition, first printing. Leather_bound. This is a finely bound copy of the first edition, first printing of Churchill’s autobiography. My Early Life 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. The challenge for collectors is that the plum colored binding of this edition proved especially susceptible to fading, soiling, and wear; nearly all copies are considerably spine faded. Hence this finely bound example. We commissioned the binding in full dark plum morocco, deferential to the original binding color. The binding features hubbed spine with gilt-tooled and decoratively framed raised bands, gilt lion rampant in the unprinted compartments, and twin brown spine labels. The beveled edge boards are framed in gilt and gilt-tooled turn-ins framing handsome marbled endpapers. The contents are bound with silk head and tail bands and gilt top edge.
Condition of the binding is perfect. Condition of the contents is very good for the edition, with no previous ownership marks and light spotting confined to prelims and page edges. This copy is identified by Cohen (Vol. I, p.330) as first edition, first printing, second state, distinguished by 12 Churchill titles in the list of “Works by the same Author” on the half-title verso.
My Early Life covers the years from Churchill’s birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. 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 took his first seat in Parliament only weeks after the end of Queen Victoria's reign.
My Early Life 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." 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 characterize the book.
Reference: Cohen A91.1.c, Woods/ICS A37(aa), Langworth p.131. Item #005561