New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977. Hardcover. This is the 1977 first printing of a handsome and elusive reprint of Churchill's enduringly popular autobiography. The first U.S. edition of My Early Life (originally titled A Roving Commission in the U.S.) was published by Scribner's in 1930. The Scribner’s "Hudson River" series produced quality, low-volume reprints of important titles previously published by Scribner's. Churchill’s bibliographer Ronald Cohen cites a 1977 and 1979 printing. We know of two subsequent printings. This copy is the 1977 first printing of the Hudson River Editions issue. This is a handsome edition, the binding in heavy, dark blue cloth with silver spine print, the contents bound with blue and yellow head and tail bands and light blue endpapers. The dust jackets are printed blue and black on heavy, ivory-color laid paper stock.
Condition of both volume and dust jacket is very good plus. The blue cloth binding is square and tight with sharp corners and bright silver spine print. We note only the slightest shelf wear to the lower spine. The contents are bright and clean with no previous ownership marks. Spotting is primarily confined to the top edges, with only a trivial scattering to the otherwise bright and clean fore and bottom edges. A faint stain on the upper front free endpaper recto is a transfer from the bookseller sticker affixed to the dust jacket upper front flap. The dust jacket is complete apart from a tiny abrasion hole at the lower spine below the publisher’s printed name. Light overall soiling, uniform moderate spine toning, and the aforementioned bookseller sticker affixed to the upper front flap are the only defects to report. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
My Early Life covers the years from Churchill's birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. One can hardly ask for more adventurous content. These were momentous and formative years for Churchill, including his time as a war correspondent and cavalry officer in theatres as varied as Cuba, northwest India, and sub-Saharan and southern Africa. Not only was Churchill developing as an author and public persona, publishing his first books, and making his first lecture tour of North America, but this was also the time of his capture and daring escape during the Boer War, which made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career. Churchill would take his seat in Parliament only weeks after the end of Queen Victoria's reign.
My Early Life remains one of the most popular and widely read of all Churchill's books. And for good reason, as the work certainly ranks among the most charming and accessible of his many books. An original 1930 review likened it to a "beaker of Champagne." That effervescent charm endures; a more recent writer called it "a racy, humorous, self-deprecating classic of autobiography." Churchill takes some liberties with facts and perhaps unduly lightens or over-simplifies certain events, but this is eminently forgivable and in keeping with the wit, pace, and engaging style that characterizes the book.
Reference: Cohen A91.16.a, Woods/ICS A37(hb.1), Langworth p.143. Item #006503