London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1943. Hardcover. This is Churchill's extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. First published in 1930, this is a 1943 wartime reprint (from first edition plates) by Macmillan, and is compelling both in condition and provenance.
Per an elaborate printed grey plate affixed to the front pastedown, this copy was a gift from British industrialist Alexander Duckham to a customer in 1943. The presentation plate reads: “Written when he certainly had no conception of becoming 'Pater Patriae' I feel that Mr. Churchill’s autobiography up to 1901 will be an appropriate and acceptable token of goodwill to our customers on our 44th birthday anniversary, November 1943.” The plate is facsimile signed “Alexander Duckham".
Alexander Duckham (1877-1945) was an English chemist, businessman, and early aviation pioneer who in 1899 founded Alexander Duckham & Co. A blender of oils, Duckhams was the second largest of the independent UK blenders after Castrol. By the mid-1930s it was sold in over thirty countries, mainly in Europe and British overseas territories. After the Second World War and Duckham’s death, motoring for the masses became a reality and Duckham's became a household name for engine oil. (Wagner, The Duckham's Story: A Century of Fighting Friction)
Regarding this particular edition, Macmillan acquired the rights to several Churchill books after Thornton Butterworth went under in 1940. During the war years, these desirable reprints were published by Macmillan, bound in dark blue cloth and wrapped in attractive tan dust jackets. Thus this edition, reprinted from the first edition plates. This third Macmillan printing of 1943 is very good plus in a very good plus dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is tight and clean with bright spine gilt, minor wear to extremities, a faint vertical spine dimple, and a minor forward lean. The contents are bright, clean, and crisp. Trivial spotting appears confined to endpapers and page edges. The dust jacket is complete, with light wear to extremities, just a little soiling, and a mildly toned spine. The dust jacket is protected in a removable, clear, archival cover.
One can hardly ask for more adventurous content than found in the pages of My Early Life. 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 compassed 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 would take 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 A91.6.c, Woods/ICS A37(d.3), Langworth p.139. Item #006078