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 in good plus condition. The original red cloth binding is intact and surprisingly bright, but worn as might be expected of a Colonial copy. The illustrated front cover remains bright and clean, marred only by some moisture staining to the lower left corner and light wear to corners. The spine is only modestly sunned and retains bright gilt, but shows fraying at the spine ends and at points along the front hinge. The blank rear cover remains bright with light surface and corner wear. The contents are brighter and cleaner than expected of a Colonial issue, with no previous ownership marks and trivial spotting confined to the prelims and page edges. The hinges show cosmetic splits to the gutter paper at both pastedowns, but nonetheless firmly intact with the mull beneath firmly attached. There is a moisture stain to the top edge adjacent to the spine that penetrates slightly and occasionally the blank upper margin of the pages within, the only significant impact being to the upper frontispiece and title page. The first free endpaper has a vertical crease and .5 inch closed tear at the fore edge. 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.
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 #006452