London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1899. Second edition, Colonial Library issue, first printing. Hardcover. This is a scarce Colonial Library issue of Churchill's first book, the first printing of the Silver Library edition, one of only 360 copies bound thus. Colonial editions were produced in small numbers simultaneously with the first edition of 1898 and the second, “Silver Library” edition of 1899. Harsher climates and living conditions in the colonies meant low survival rates - and often poor condition for the few survivors. Complicating matters for collectors, there were no fewer than 10 different editions, printings, and binding variations for the modest number of Colonial issues ultimately produced from 1898 to 1901.
This copy is the first printing of the Colonial issue of the second, "Silver Library" edition. Publication of the first edition of 1898 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 with errata slips that were included in later states of the first edition. In part because of the errors in the first edition which so vexed Churchill, the publisher also issued a second edition less than a year after the first in January 1899. This Silver Library edition was the first to incorporate the author's corrections in the text, making this an important and highly collectable edition.
Only 360 copies of this first Silver Library edition were issued as hardcover colonial editions, bound in the distinctive colonial edition cloth binding. Here is one of these 360, a good plus copy, sound, complete, and unrestored. The distinctive colonial cloth binding is far from fine but nonetheless respectable, square and tight. It does show wear consonant with its colonial provenance; the spine is tanned and frayed at the ends, with a chip loss to the surface cloth just below the author’s name and a 1.25 inch vertical crack in the cloth bisecting the author’s name. The illustrated front cover retains strong color with only superficial scuffing and wear at the lower corner. The undecorated rear cover is only lightly soiled. Silver Library sheets were printed on paper that inclined to browning and brittleness over time. These contents are well-preserved for Silver Library sheets, with age-toning to the edges throughout but no noticeable brittleness. Surprisingly, there is no appreciable spotting. The only previous ownership mark is a single name on the upper front pastedown.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force recounts Churchill’s experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. This book was written and published while Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. 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 – but this was his first book-length work. 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 his 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.
Reference: Cohen A1.4.a, Woods/ICS A1(bb.1), Langworth p.19. Item #006406