London & New York: Hodder and Stoughton; George H. Doran Company, 1908. First U.S. edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the U.S. first edition, more humble in appearance than its British counterpart, but also far more scarce. 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. This book is notable, among other things, for being the only one of his many books to contain photographs ostensibly taken by the author. 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 The 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. This is the first U.S. edition, only printing, second state. The first U.S. edition is far scarcer than the British first edition, with only 1400 copies sold (encompassing all three states), in contrast to more than 8000 copies of the more frequently seen British edition. The U.S. first edition was made from British first edition sheets bound in a plain coarse dark red cloth with the same gilt titles on the spine as used on the British. The three states of these U.S. first editions differ only in the title pages. The first state lists “Hodder and Stoughton” at the foot of the title page and the location as “London”. The second state still lists also lists “Hodder & Stoughton” but with an ampersand instead of “and” and adding “New York and” to “London”. The third state substitutes “George H. Doran Company” for Hodder and Stoughton and lists only “New York”.
The binding was comparatively plain and aesthetically uninspired compared to that of the British first edition. The cloth proved highly susceptible to fading and mottling of the color; nearly all remaining copies show spine sunning. Moreover, a substantial portion of copies we encounter are ex-library with attendant markings and scars. This second state copy is in very good overall condition. While it is ex-library, it wears the status lightly, denoted only by a quite faint “916” on the lower spine and “Public Library | Chester, N.H.” ink-stamped on the recto of the blank sheet preceding the half-title. The only other marking is a tiny sticker of a Manchester bookstore affixed to the lower verso of the final free endpaper. The binding is square and tight with sharp corners. There is modest shelf wear and modest wear to the spine ends. The spine is a bit sunned, but the gilt remains legible. The covers retain bright color, the typical mottling quite light, with a tiny .375 inch (.95 cm) circular stain to the upper left front cover. The contents are also better than most copies we see. All photographic plates and maps are present and intact. We note modest age-toning but no spotting. A cosmetic split at the p.64-65 gutter does not affect either the mull beneath or binding integrity.
Reference: Cohen A27.5, Woods/ICS A12(ab), Langworth p.83. Item #005736