London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1900. First edition, first printing. Full leather. This handsome pair are the British first edition, first printings of Churchill’s third and fourth published books London to Ladysmith via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton's March, the two books based on his newspaper despatches sent from the front in South Africa. Both published in the first year of the twentieth century, these books mark Churchill's final literary effort as an itinerant soldier and war correspondent before embarking on his storied political career.
The matching full red Morocco goatskin bindings are the work of the renowned Bayntun-Riviere bindery of Bath, England. The bindings feature hubbed spines with gilt-decorated spine bands and gilt-ruled compartments, two of which feature the author and title, four of which feature a gilt lion rampant. The covers feature gilt rule borders, each lower front cover stamped with Churchill’s facsimile signature in gilt. The cover edges are gilt ruled and the spine ends gilt hatched. The contents are bound with all edges gilt, red and gold silk head and tail bands, and striking marbled endpapers framed by generous gilt ruled and tooled turn-ins. The publisher’s original front cover cloth is bound in at the rear of each volume.
“BAYNTUN RIVIERE BATH” is gilt-stamped on the lower front turn-in of London to Ladysmith and the lower rear turn-in of Ian Hamilton’s March. In 1939, the year the Second World War began, the firm of George Bayntun acquired the Rivière Bindery. The Bayntun-Rivière Bindery has been in residence on Manvers Street in Bath ever since. This compellingly handsome example of the fine binder’s craft is a reminder to collectors that not all fine bindings are created equal.
Condition of both volumes approaches fine. The bindings show no reportable wear or blemishes. The contents of both first printing volumes are well-suited to the bindings – atypically clean with no appreciable age-toning and a pleasingly crisp feel. Spotting – endemic to these editions, is minimal; we find none in London to Ladysmith and only trivial, intermittent instances in Ian Hamilton’s March. The contents of London to Ladysmith are bound with the early issue of the original publisher’s catalogue dated “10/99”. All maps and plans are present, with the folding maps at the title page and p.366 fully intact and properly folded. The contents of Ian Hamilton’s March are bound with the original publisher’s catalogue dated “7/00”. The frontispiece and tissue guard, as well as all maps and plans, including the folding map following the text, remain intact.
In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted between descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa and the British. Churchill, an adventure-seeking young cavalry officer and war correspondent, swiftly found himself in South Africa with the 21st Lancers and an assignment as press correspondent to the Morning Post. Not long thereafter, on 15 November 1899, Churchill was captured during a Boer ambush of an armored train. His daring and dramatic escape less than a month later made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career.
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria contains 27 letters and telegrams to the Morning Post written between 26 October 1899 and 10 March 1900. It was published in England in mid-May 1900. For Ian Hamilton's March "the texts of the originally published letters were more extensively revised and four letters were included which had never appeared in periodical form" (Cohen, A8.1.a, Vol. I, p.105). Churchill effected these revisions while on board the passenger and cargo steamer Dunottar Castle, which was requisitioned as a troop ship, en route home to England. Arriving home from South Africa in July 1900, Churchill spent the summer campaigning hard in Oldham, where he won his first seat in Parliament on 1 October 1900 in the so-called "khaki election". The British first edition of Ian Hamilton's March was published just a few weeks later.
Reference: Cohen A4.1.a & A8.1.a, Woods/ICS A4(a.1) & A5(a), Langworth pp.53 & 59. Item #006674