London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1898. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, only printing, first state of Churchill's first book, based on his exploits with Sir Bindon Blood's expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. The book is housed in a full green morocco Solander case and also presents a minor bibliographic curiosity. First state is confirmed by the lack of an errata slip and a publisher’s catalogue dated “12/97”. The curiosity is the presence of a single sheet advertisement for a Bath stationer’s customizable “Visiting Cards” preceding the publisher’s catalogue. The binding cords appear to pass through this his single leaf, printed only on the recto, and it gives the impression of having been issued with the book and integral to it since publication, rather than laid in thereafter. In the many copies of Malakand we have examined, we have never previously encountered this advertisement.
Leaving aside the bibliographic curiosity, condition of this complete and unrestored copy is very good plus. Of particular note are both an unusually bright binding and unusually clean contents. The publisher’s green cloth binding remains firm, square, and vividly hued with no color shift between the covers and spine and bright front cover and spine gilt. We note only a tiny bump to the upper front corner, a touch of handling evident in a hint of browning along the hinges, and a shallow dimple to the upper half of the spine center. We would grade this copy as near-fine if not for the spine dimple. The contents certainly are near fine – quite clean for the edition. The original black endpapers are present and all maps are intact, including the folding maps at pages 1 and 146, as is the frontispiece and tissue guard. We find no previous ownership marks. Trivial spotting appears confined to the prelims and otherwise clean page edges. The book is protected within a full dark green goatskin Solander case with rounded spine, gilt framed and decorated spine bands, gilt bordered covers, and dark-green felt-lined interior. Condition of the case is fine, with no reportable wear, soiling, or toning.
When this book was written and published, Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. While he had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail - this was his first book-length work. The young Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily." Having invested his ambition in this first book, he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day."
The finished manuscript was sent to his mother on the last day of 1897 and published on 14 March of 1898. Dozens of books followed this first over the next six decades, helping Churchill earn his livelihood, his place in history, and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Publication was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors. Churchill was incensed by the errors and acted with haste to address them. Hence later states of the first edition bear errata slips. Home Issue copies also bear a 32-page Longmans, Green catalogue bound in at the back, which is dated either "12/97" or "3/98" at the foot of page 32.
Reference: Cohen A1.1.a, Woods/ICS A1(aa), Langworth p.12. Item #006031