Item #007887 A Roving Commission. Winston S. Churchill.
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission
A Roving Commission

A Roving Commission

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the U.S. first edition, first printing of Churchill's extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. This is a very good copy in the scarce first printing dust jacket, previously belonging to the personal library of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald Cohen.

The book sold very well at the time and, enduringly popular, has seen a great many editions since, many of them collectible in their own right. Of course, a premium attaches to first editions, both British and U.S. Jacketed copies of the U.S. first edition are scarce. Even decent unjacketed copies are unusual. The red-orange cloth binding proved highly susceptible to fading and soiling and the thin, fragile dust jacket proved highly vulnerable to wear and severe fading of the orange color, particularly on the jacket spine.

This copy is first printing, confirmed by the Scribner’s “A” on the copyright page. Befitting a jacketed copy, the vividly-hued cloth binding remains bright, only mildly dulled on the spine and with only mild soiling. The contents are clean and bright with a crisp feel and no spotting. The sole previous owner mark is that of Ronald Cohen, who wrote “From the library | of | Ronald I. Cohen” in pencil on the front free endpaper recto. The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original “$3.50” price on the upper front flap. The jacket shows light overall soiling. There is shallow, irregular strip loss at the spine ends (not impacting the title or publisher print) and minor loss to the flap fold corners. The spine is significantly toned with a split along the rear joint, though the orange spine panel still shows orange hue. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.

Published in England as My Early Life, this is one of the few Churchill first editions for which the U.S. edition bears a different title than the British. Interestingly, A Roving Commission was the title proposed by Churchill himself and favored by his American publisher.

One can hardly ask for more adventurous content. 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. Churchill also recounts his capture and escape during the Boer War, which made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career.

Herein Churchill says: "Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years! Don't be content with things as they are… 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…" (p.60) 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 took his first seat only weeks after the end of Queen Victoria’s reign.

A Roving Commission remains one of the most popular and widely read of Churchill's books. 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 or simplifications are forgivable, in keeping with the wit, pace, and engaging style that characterize the book.

Reference: Cohen A91.2.a, Woods/ICS A37(b.1), Langworth p. 134. Item #007887

Price: $950.00

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