London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1901. Second edition, final printing. Hardcover. This is the second and final printing of the Silver Library edition of Churchill's first book, notable for interesting provenance. The Silver Library edition was the first to incorporate the author's corrections in the text, making this an important and highly collectable edition. Unfortunately, the maroon boards proved highly susceptible to fading and wear, the paper easily browned and became brittle, and the binding often cracked. Of only 1,000 copies of the second printing, just 337 were recorded as sold, so they are scarce. Despite the small number, there were multiple binding variants in this printing. This particular variant is bound in cloth smoother than that of the first printing, but nonetheless a similar maroon color with a blind rule front cover rather than a gilt rule border. Moreover, this copy features the distinctive swan and ship endpapers typically found only in first printing copies, but featuring the corrected “1924” date rather than the incorrect “1926” date.
Provenance is worth noting. This copy once belonged to the Defence Library of New Zealand, as evidenced by the oval ink stamp of same dated “26 JUN 1913” on the first page of the Preface, as well as at the additional “Preface to the Second Edition”. There are library numbers inked in white and black on the spine, notation on the front free endpaper verso, accession and classification numbers on the title page verso, and a small library pocket affixed to the rear pastedown with a stamped checkout date of “28 JUN 65”. Perhaps most interesting is an unsigned, laid-in, handwritten note inked on lined paper that reads: “AND THEREUPON I SAT DOWN AND WROTE A BOOK. AND THE LIBRARY CRITICS WERE MOST KIND TO ME. IF GENERAL KITCHENER SHOULD EVER FIND TIME TO READ MR WINSTON CHURCHILLS NEW BOOK, THE MALAKAND FIELD FORCE, ITS FASCINATING TO IMAGINE THE GREAT WARRIOR’S REACTION TO IT. THE BOOK IS EXCELLENT FOR A FIRST EFFORT, BUT PERHAPS ITS TITLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN, SOME HELPFUL HINTS FOR GENERALS FROM A YOUNG LIEUTENANT.”
Condition is good plus. The binding is square and tight, a little spine faded with some mottling along the fore edge of the front cover and light overall soiling and scuffing, including shelf wear to extremities. Though toned, as typical for the edition, the contents are clean with spotting appreciable only to the prelims. All maps are present and complete, as is the frontispiece and tissue guard.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force recounts Churchill’s experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. This book was written and published while Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. He had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail – but this was his first book-length work. Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily."
Churchill sent the finished manuscript to his mother on the last day of 1897. It was published on 14 March of 1898. Publication was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors. Churchill was incensed by the errors and acted with haste to address them. In part because of the errors in the first edition which so vexed Churchill, the publisher issued this second, Silver Library edition less than a year after the first in January 1899.
Reference: Cohen A1.3.b, Woods/ICS A1(ba.2), Langworth p.22. Item #007035