Toronto: William Briggs, 1909. First Canadian edition. Hardcover. This genuine rarity is the first and only Canadian issue of My African Journey, among the scarcest English language first editions of Churchill's book-length works. We have seen only a precious few on the market over many years. 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 apparently taken by the author.
Both the Canadian and British first editions are striking, with a vivid red binding and a pictorial front cover bearing a woodcut illustration of Churchill with his bagged white rhinoceros depicted in blue, grey, and black. This Canadian edition is distinguished by the publisher "BRIGGS" on the lower spine, in lieu of the British edition's "Hodder & Stoughton". This Canadian edition also bears a unique title page. As with the British edition, the red cloth spine of this Canadian edition proved exceptionally vulnerable to sunning and the 61 photographs were tipped in rather than bound, so copies should be carefully checked to ensure the presence of all illustrations and maps.
Condition of this copy is good, sound and unrestored, but nonetheless with wear and defects. The publisher’s red cloth binding is square and reasonably tight, though worn and soiled. The illustrated front cover remains bright despite light overall soiling and a few minor scuffs to the upper left in the blue sky portion of the illustration. The blank rear cover is bright though soiled. Both covers show shelf wear and minor bumps to the corners. The spine is toned, soiled, and worn, with fraying at the spine ends and a clean, one inch (2.54 cm) split to the red cloth, not affecting binding integrity, at the upper rear hinge. The gilt spine print is dulled but remains legible. The contents are complete, with all illustrations and maps present. A few of the tipped in photographic plates are loose, as is typical, but all present and correctly located. Curiously, duplicates of the p.24 illustration and the p.114 illustrations, notionally sourced from another copy, are cropped and pasted, respectively, to the blank recto preceding the half title and to the final free endpaper verso. Spotting is light and intermittent throughout, heavier only to the leaves preceding the frontispiece. The endpapers show cosmetic splits at the gutters that do not affect binding integrity, the mull beneath still fully intact. We find no previous ownership marks.
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 A27.7, Woods/ICS A12(ac), Langworth p.85. Item #006464