London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., 1916. Third edition. Hardcover. This is the Shilling Library edition, a nicely preserved copy of a handsome First World War publication. This title was Churchill's first book, recounting his experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897.
Bibliographically the third edition (after the first of 1898 and the second, Silver Library edition of 1899), this edition was billed as a “cheap edition” during the First World War - a momentous time for Churchill which saw him serve both in the Cabinet and on the Front and which nearly cost him both his political and corporeal lives. It was published in April 1916, while Churchill was still serving as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches.
This edition is a small, attractive book measuring 6.25 x 4.25 inches, bound in a bright blue cloth with blind rule bordered front cover, gilt-printed spine, and illustrated endpapers. Six maps are retained from the first edition, and there are 383 pages of small type. The edition was diminutive and fragile, and surviving copies typically show pronounced wear, soiling, and toning. Condition of this copy is only good. The blue cloth binding retains unusually strong blue color and bright spine gilt, the spine only slightly dulled and a bit wrinkled with some soiling to the lower half, the covers showing modest shelf wear to extremities. Opening the book reveals it to be an intriguing ex-library copy; the front free endpaper features the red, printed sticker of Dublin’s “CONVENT OF THE SACRED HEART | MOUNT ANVILLE | READING ROOM”. The same page features both ink stamps and hand notation of Mount Anville Library” as well as a date of “1922”. Additionally, a number is inked on the front free endpaper verso, and an additional ink stamp on the blank frontispiece verso. The contents are otherwise clean, with no spotting. Mild age-toning is evident only to the page edges. The binding is a bit shaken, with a split showing at the pp.382-83 gutter, exposing the still-intact mull beneath. The endpapers show the usual offsetting from the pastedown glue.
When The Story of the Malakand Field Force was first published in 1898, Churchill was a young cavalry officer and war correspondent. While he had successfully applied his pen as a journalist, this was Churchill's first book-length work and he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day." The young 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 the book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother of the project: "...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 certainly experienced plenty more of both politics and war in the 18 years that elapsed between the first edition and this First World War reprint.
Reference: Cohen A1.5, Woods/ICS A1(c), Langworth p.24. Item #007720