My African Journey. Winston S. Churchill.
My African Journey
My African Journey

My African Journey

New York: George H. Doran Company, 1908. First U.S. edition, only printing. 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 and final state is the only to make unequivocally plain that this is the U.S. edition, substituting “George H. Doran Company” for Hodder and Stoughton and listing 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 third and final state, with “George H. Doran Company | New York” on the title page. Condition is very good, both the binding and contents cleaner than in the majority of copies we have encountered. 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 we find no previous ownership marks of any kind. The binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners. The spine and an adjacent strip of the rear cover show mild, uniform sunning, but shelf presentation is nonetheless quite good for the edition, the gilt still vivid. Modest shelf wear is primarily confined to the corners, spine ends, and hinges and there is a small scratch between the title and author. The contents are notably bright and crisp for the edition. Moreover, we find no spotting. Even the page edges are clean. 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 A27.6, Woods/ICS A12(ab), Langworth p.83. Item #006455

Price: $1,200.00

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