London: Odhams Press Limited, 1958. Hardcover. This 1958 reprint of Churchill's extremely popular autobiography of his early life is signed by Churchill on the half-title in blue ink with his initials and surname. The signature is in the unsteady hand typical of late 1950's Churchill signatures. By this time Churchill had suffered multiple strokes, the effects of which compounded the general infirmities of advancing age. Provenance inspires confidence; this book was once part of the Malcolm S. Forbes Jr. Churchill collection. Though the signature is undated, given the 9 June 1958 publication date, this copy was signed in the final six and a half years of his long life, a time when Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served.
Of the many books authored by Sir Winston, My Early Life - originally published in 1930 - is arguably the most popular, widely read, and most frequently reprinted. Between 1947 and 1965, Odhams Press Limited issued six printings of My Early Life. This signed copy is the "deluxe binding" of the 1958 fifth printing, distinguished by a black title and author panel on the spine, multiple gilt devices and rules on the spine, the author's signature in gilt on the front cover, and red-stained page edges. Condition is near-fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The red cloth binding is tight, square, and clean, retaining vivid, unfaded red color, bright gilt, and showing only trivial shelf wear to extremities. The contents are bright with no spotting and no markings other than the author's signature. The red-stained page edges retain bright, unfaded color. The dust jacket is notably bright, both the yellow and olive hues unfaded, with light wear confined to extremities and only trivial hints of soiling. The front flap is neatly price clipped and bears a tiny adhesive scar, likely from removal of a small price sticker. The dust jacket is protected with a removable, clear, archival cover.
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 A91.9.i, Woods/ICS A37(g.5), Langworth p.141. Item #005997