London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the British first edition, only printing of My African Journey, Churchill's travelogue on Britain's possessions in East Africa, written while he was serving as Undersecretary of State for the Colonies. The 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. This book is notable, among other things, for being the only one of his many books to contain photographs apparently taken by the author.
The red cloth spine proved exceptionally vulnerable to sunning and the lovely books seem to have attracted handling, making wear and soiling the norm. Spotting is also endemic. Bright and clean copies are increasingly elusive. This copy is far from fine, but nonetheless quite respectable for the species - a British first edition, only printing approaching very good condition. The red cloth binding is square and tight with a nicely rounded spine. The spine is modestly darkened, but uniformly so and the gilt spine print remains distinct. The spine shows minor soiling near the center, some fraying and shallow chipping at the tail, and a clean, unobtrusive 1.25 inch (3.2 cm) split to the red cloth at the upper rear hinge that does not affect binding integrity. The illustrated front cover – the hallmark of this edition – is notably bright, with trivial soiling confined to the upper right corner. The rear cover is likewise bright, though lightly soiled and scuffed. The contents show no previous ownership marks. 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, as is the tissue cover at the frontispiece. Spotting is moderate, primarily confined to the page edges and prelims, with minor encroachment primarily confined to the blank margins throughout the text. The binding is protected beneath a clear, removable mylar cover.
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.
Reference: Cohen A27.1, Woods/ICS A12(aa), Langworth p.81. Item #006314