Item #006453 My African Journey. Winston S. Churchill.
My African Journey
My African Journey
My African Journey

My African Journey

New York and London: Hodder and Stoughton (for George H. Doran Company), 1908. First U.S. edition, only printing, second state. Hardcover. This is the U.S. first edition, more humble in appearance than its British counterpart, but also far more scarce. My African Journey is Churchill's travelogue on Britain's possessions in East Africa, 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 ostensibly taken by the author.

The first U.S. edition is far scarcer than the British first edition, with only 1400 copies sold (encompassing all three states), in contrast to more than 8000 copies of the more frequently seen British edition. The U.S. first edition was made from British first edition sheets bound in a plain coarse dark red cloth with the same gilt titles on the spine as used on the British. Unlike its British counterpart, the sheets were left untrimmed on the fore and bottom edges and were bound without the Hodder and Stoughton catalogue at the rear.

The three states of these U.S. first editions differ only in the title pages. The first state lists “Hodder and Stoughton” at the foot of the title page and the location as “London”. The second state still lists “Hodder & Stoughton” but with an ampersand instead of “and” and adding “New York and” to “London”. The third state substitutes “George H. Doran Company” for Hodder and Stoughton and lists only “New York”.

The strange troika of issues of the first U.S. edition owes to Doran’s relationship with Hodder & Stoughton and his newly minted status as a New York publisher in 1908. Doran had begun his publishing business in partnership with Hodder & Stoughton, who was a minority shareholder in Doran’s namesake enterprise, and had just opened his American offices in New York in February 1908. (See Cohen, Vol. I, p.159, A27.4)

This copy is the second state, with “Hodder & Stoughton | New York and London” on the title page. Condition is better than good plus. The binding was comparatively plain and aesthetically uninspired compared to that of the British first edition. The cloth proved highly susceptible to fading and mottling of the color; nearly all remaining copies show spine sunning. Moreover, a substantial portion of copies we encounter are ex-library with attendant markings and scars. This copy is not ex-library; indeed the only previous ownership marking of any kind is a tiny, inscrutable ink notation on the upper left rear pastedown. The binding is square with unusually good color on both the covers and spine, which is only mildly toned. The chief exterior defects are wear and some fraying to the spine ends and corners, as well as cosmetic splits to the cloth (not affecting binding integrity) at points along the rear hinge, including a 2-inch (5 cm) span. We would grade this copy as very good if not for the cosmetic rear hinge splits. The contents are unusually bright, with minimal age-toning, though there is light intermittent spotting. All photographic plates and maps are present and intact, including the frontispiece.

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. The photograph of Churchill and his kill is the frontispiece of both the British and American editions. 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 A27.5, Woods/ICS A12(ab), Langworth p.83. Item #006453

Price: $900.00

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