New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1900. First edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is Churchill's third book and only novel, U.S. first edition, second printing, quite scarce thus in the red cloth binding variant.
Of note, this is one of the few Churchill books for which the U.S. edition is the true first edition. In fact, the British first edition was issued from American plates. The second printing of the first edition occurred in January 1900, the same month as the U.S. first printing and still a month before the first British edition, which was not issued until February 1900. Most second printings were nearly identical to the first printing, bound in the same blue cloth and distinguished internally only by notation of the January 1900 reprint on the copyright page. However, there was a scarce variant of the second bound in red cloth with white lettering. The binding proved quite susceptible to fading, wear, and fading of the white lettering.
Here is the scarce red cloth variant of the second printing. Condition is only good, sound and complete though suffering some aesthetic depredations of time and wear. The binding is square and tight and the spine is only minimally toned. However, there is some superficial delamination and color loss to the front cover fore edge, and the same, though less severe, to the rear cover fore edge, likely the result of some moisture exposure. Additionally, there is modest wear to the extremities, including the spine ends and corners, and a small hole at the lower third of the front hinge. The white spine and front cover lettering suffer the expected partial loss and fading. The small hole along the front hinge is likely insect damage, as evidenced by it persisting into the inner hinge and the additional presence of insect damage to the fore edge of the pastedown and the facing fore edges of the first two blank leaves. The contents are otherwise clean and undamaged. We find no spotting. The sole previous ownership mark is a “Vancouver. B.C.” name and address inked on the front free endpaper recto, evidently vintage given the spreading and fading of the ink. A cosmetic split to the endpapers at the rear pastedown gutter exposes the intact mull beneath but does not affect binding integrity.
A very young Churchill was exuberant about publication at the time. Even though Savrola was his third published book, it was actually the first book he undertook and the second he completed. His “Tale of the Revolution in Laurania” is a melodramatic tale of political intrigue in a fictional Mediterranean state. He would later make deprecating comments about his novel and it is perhaps instructive that he never wrote another. In his 1930 autobiography he wrote, "I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it [Savrola]." However, his mixed feelings about his only novel did not keep Churchill from writing a foreword to a new edition in 1956: "The preface to the first edition in 1900 submitted the book 'with considerable trepidation to the judgment or the clemency of the public.' The intervening fifty-five years have somewhat dulled though certainly not changed my sentiments on this point."
It has been argued that, as a literary effort, Savrola gave “dramatic voice to Churchill’s mature philosophical reflections about his fundamental political and ethical principles at the very moment when he settled on them for the rest of his life.” (Powers, Finest Hour #74) Irrespective of Churchill's feelings about his book or the literary merit thereof, the novel certainly provides an interesting insight into the early political perspective and sentiment of the then very young Churchill.
Reference: Cohen A3.1.c, Langworth p.40, unknown to Woods. Item #006519