My Early Life. Winston S. Churchill.
My Early Life
My Early Life
My Early Life
My Early Life
My Early Life
My Early Life

My Early Life

London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1934. Keystone Library Issue, first printing. Hardcover. This the first printing of the Keystone Library issue of Winston Churchill’s extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament.

My Early Life was originally published in 1930, sold very well at the time, and has seen a great many editions since, many of them collectible in their own right. But, of course, a premium attaches to first editions. The Keystone Library series was published by Thornton Butterworth in the same setting and binding style as the first edition. There were three printings between 1934 and 1940. Like the first edition, the Keystone Library edition was also bound in a striking purple cloth that proved very prone to wear and fading. With jacketed first British editions now extravagantly rare and extraordinarily expensive, this first printing of the original publisher's Keystone Library issue is an attractive alternative.

This copy is good plus in a good dust jacket. The cloth binding is clean, tight, and square, retaining bright purple hue on the covers and spine except for four circular spots corresponding to where the price was clipped from the jacket – one on the upper rear face, one on the lower spine, and two on the lower front face. In our experience, this is common for copies originally destined for sale in the antipodes, which in this case is corroborated by the tiny sticker of an “ADELAIDE” bookseller affixed to the lower front pastedown. We note light shelf wear to extremities, including wrinkling to the spine ends, and some darkening of the gilt spine print. The contents are respectably bright and clean with light spotting substantially confined to the endpapers and page edges. Apart from the bookseller sticker, the only previous ownership marks are an inked gift inscription on the front free endpaper recto and a small stray ink mark on the title page. The dust jacket is price-clipped, as described, with minor loss to the hinge and flap fold extremities, and shows mild, uniform spine toning. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable archival cover.

One can hardly ask for more adventurous content than the non-fiction (well, mostly) between the covers of My Early Life. These momentous and formative years for Churchill included his time as an itinerant war correspondent and cavalry officer in theaters ranging from Cuba, to northwest India, to sub-Saharan and southern Africa. Herein Churchill says:

"Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years!
Don't be content with things as they are.
'The earth is yours and the fulness thereof'.
Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities....
Don't take No for an answer. Never submit to failure...
You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true,
and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
She was made to be wooed and won by youth." (MEL, p.74)

By the end of his own twenty-fifth year, Churchill had been one of the world’s highest paid war correspondents, published his first five books, made his first lecture tour of North America, braved and breasted both battlefields and the hustings, and been elected to Parliament, where he would take his first seat 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. 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." To be sure, Churchill takes some liberties with facts and perhaps unduly lightens or over-simplifies certain events. Nonetheless, the factual experiences of Churchill’s early life compete with any fiction, and any liberties taken are forgivable, in keeping with the wit, pace, and engaging style that characterize the book.

Reference: Cohen A91.3.a, Woods/ICS A37(ac.1), Langworth p.136. Item #006962

Price: $250.00

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