Item #007219 London to Ladysmith via Pretoria. Winston S. Churchill.
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria
London to Ladysmith via Pretoria

London to Ladysmith via Pretoria

New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1900. First U.S. edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is an exceptional copy of the U.S. first edition of Churchill's fourth published book, the best-preserved copy we have encountered. London to Ladysmith via Pretoria is the first of Churchill's two books based on his newspaper despatches sent from the front in South Africa.

The American edition is both distinctly different in appearance and significantly fewer in number than its British first edition counterpart; the U.S. first edition saw just a single printing of which no more than an estimated 1,850 copies were sold. As opposed to the illustrated khaki cloth of the British first edition, this U.S. edition is bound in pebble grain red cloth that proved quite susceptible to blotchy wear and soiling, particularly on the spine.

This is a remarkably bright and clean copy, approaching near fine condition, almost a chimera thus. The binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners, vivid spine and front cover gilt, and striking, unfaded red hue on both the covers and spine. We note only mild, superficial scuffing. The contents are notably bright with no previous ownership marks and no spotting. All maps and plans are intact, including the folding maps, which remain properly folded. The top edge gilt is bright. We note only a strip of browning along the lower edge of the front pastedown, possibly transfer from the pastedown glue, and a few faint, tiny instances of soling to the otherwise bright fore and bottom edges.

In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted between the descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa and the British. Churchill, an itinerant, 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 and sold well. Churchill returned from South Africa in July 1900 and spent the summer campaigning hard in Oldham. Churchill had lost the Oldham by-election – his first attempt at Parliament – in July 1899. Since then, as Arthur Balfour (who became Prime Minister in 1902) put it in a 30 August 1900 letter, the young Churchill had had “fresh opportunities - admirably taken advantage of – for shewing the public of what stuff you are made.” Indeed; Churchill won his first seat in Parliament on 1 October 1900 in the so-called "khaki election".

Reference: Cohen A4.2, Woods/ICS A4(b), Langworth p.55. Item #007219

Price: $1,000.00

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