Toronto: The Copp, Clark Company, Ltd., 1900. First Canadian edition. Hardcover. This is a collector-worthy Canadian first edition of Churchill's fourth published book. Both U.S. and Canadian editions were published in June 1900. The Canadian is the scarcest of the three English-language first editions. This Canadian edition was bound in tan cloth with an illustrated front cover like its British counterpart, and is easily distinguishable by a red fleur-de-lis on the spine, thinner binding, and black title and author print. The attractive binding is prone to both hinge breaks and severe spine toning.
Here is a superior example, in better than very good plus condition. The binding remains tight and square, with sharp corners. There is almost no reportable wear, with only trivial wrinkling at the spine ends. We would grade this copy as near fine with no qualifiers were it not for some of the customary spine toning endemic to this edition. Nonetheless, shelf presentation is quite respectable, the spine color even and the red fleur-de-lis still clearly legible. The contents are likewise in superior condition. We find no spotting and modest age-toning shows appreciably only on the page edges. There are three previous ownership marks: an attractive illustrated bookplate affixed to the front pastedown; an inked name on the upper front free endpaper recto; and a third name and date of “1900 – June” - presumably that of the original owner – inked on the upper title page. The ink of this original owner’s name has spread with time.
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria is the first of Churchill's two books based on his newspaper despatches sent from the front in South Africa. In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted between the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa and the British. Churchill, an itinerant, adventure-seeking young cavalry officer and war correspondent, swiftly found himself in South Africa with the 21st Lancers and an assignment as press correspondent to the Morning Post. Not long thereafter, on 15 November 1899, Churchill was captured during a Boer ambush of an armored train. His daring and dramatic escape less than a month later made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career.
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria contains 27 letters and telegrams to the Morning Post written between 26 October 1899 and 10 March 1900. It was published in England in mid-May 1900 and sold well. Churchill returned from South Africa in July 1900 and spent the summer campaigning hard in Oldham. Churchill had lost the Oldham by-election – his first attempt at Parliament – in July 1899. Since then, as Arthur Balfour (who became Prime Minister in 1902) put it in a 30 August 1900 letter, the young Churchill had had “fresh opportunities - admirably taken advantage of – for shewing the public of what stuff you are made.” Indeed; Churchill won his first seat in Parliament on 1 October 1900 in the so-called "khaki election".
Reference: Cohen A4.3.a, Woods/ICS A4(bb), Langworth p.56. Item #006416