London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908. First edition, Colonial issue. Hardcover. This is the scarce hardcover colonial issue of the British first edition of My African Journey. Churchill's travelogue on Britain's possessions in East Africa was 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 apparently taken by the author. My African Journey offers collectors the only colonial issue of a work by Churchill written about colonial possessions while Churchill was actually serving in the Colonial Office.
The British first edition is striking, with a vivid red binding and a prominent front cover bearing a woodcut illustration in blue, grey, and black of Churchill with his bagged white rhinoceros. There was a scarce Colonial hardcover issue of the first edition. Per Churchill bibliographer Ronald I. Cohen (Cohen A27.2, Vol I, p.158): "the colonial issue in cloth covers is distinguished only by the presence of an asterisk, gilt, below the name of the publisher on the spine." While there were a total of 12,500 copies of the first edition printed, it is estimated that no more than 1,726 of these were such colonial copies. Given that the Colonial issue was destined for the harsh climates and conditions of the British colonies, comparatively few have survived and even fewer have survived in respectable condition.
This copy is an exception, certainly not fine, but even so scarce thus, approaching very good condition, bright, complete, and unrestored. The striking red cloth binding remains atypically bright, the spine only very lightly toned. The spine gilt, including the asterisk denoting the Colonial status of this copy, remains distinct. The binding shows faint mottling likely associated with a damp climate, but is nonetheless bright and presentable with modest wear to extremities, including small bumps to the upper corners. The contents are uncommonly clean for a colonial issue, with modest spotting primarily confined to prelims and page edges. The sole previous ownership mark is a previous owner name and date of “17/2/09” inked in a lovely hand on the upper half title. The 61 photographs of this edition were tipped in rather than bound, so copies should always be carefully checked to ensure the presence of all illustrations and maps. All illustrations and maps are present in this copy, as is the frontispiece tissue guard.
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 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.
Reference: Cohen A27.2, Woods/ICS A12(aa), Langworth p.82. Item #006243