THE STORY OF THE MALAKAND FIELD FORCE

An Episode of Frontier War

[1897]
(Cohen A1) (Woods A1)

Winston Churchill’s first book is a true-life adventure story that vividly captures his experiences on the Northwest Frontier of India while attached to Sir Bindon Blood’s punitive expedition in 1897. Churchill’s willingness, even as a young lieutenant, to criticize the leading generals of the day typified his precocious approach and alienated some of those generals, including Lord Kitchener, who would later try to prevent Churchill from joining Kitchener’s expedition to reconquer the Sudan (see The River War). Much of this book’s content first appeared as newspaper dispatches posted by Winston Churchill, as a war correspondent, setting a precedent for many of the author’s works to come.
As Churchill’s first book, Malakand has always been desirable. Yet, until the publication of a modern reprint in 1990, there had been no edition in print in the English language since 1916. (The only edition in any language published between 1916 and 1990 was issued in 1944 by Churchill’s Swedish publisher, Skoglunds, which remains the only foreign translation.) Thanks in part to the efforts of the International Churchill Society, Malakand was reissued in the 1990s in both hardcover and softcover, though these editions, too, are now out of print.

From the Reviews
“There’s not an awkward passage in Churchill’s first book. He sets the exotic stage as he moves us into the action…Churchill elbowed his way into the Malakand Field Force seeking military, not literary, distinction. He was a twenty-two-year-old subaltern in the 4th Hussars, a regiment stationed in Bangalore, far to the south. He was poor [and] restless in the peacetime cavalry. When the frontier tribes attacked, he wired the Malakand Field Force commander, Sir Bindon Blood, whom he had met socially, proposing to spend his leave at war. Sir Bindon, who had filled all his slots for junior officers, allowed Winston to come along as a war correspondent.
“The pattern of the campaign was dictated by the region’s melodramatic topography. Churchill describes the Bengal Lancers, under fire, trying to swim their horses through a gorge of the swift-flowing Swat River, and he also describes the artillerymen walking their mules over a swinging bridge across the Panjkora River while the current below battered the bodies of dead camels against the rocks. The tribes fought for fun, for loot, and for Islam; one mullah had promised that they would be invulnerable to the bullets of the infidel, and another that they would go to heaven if they were killed. Since they didn’t coordinate a strategy, the frontier campaign was a series of separate actions, some consecutive, others simultaneous.
Churchill sees to it that the reader is never confused; we will always know where a particular brigade is and what it is trying to do. Though Churchill the writer was at least as green as Churchill the soldier, he knew that it was best to describe little things (for example, that a bullet missing you makes ‘a curious sucking noise’ in the air) and let the reader discover the big things – the steadiness of the outnumbered imperial forces, the cultural misunderstandings that pervaded the frontier – for himself.”

-Naomi Bliven in The New Yorker, March 26, 1990

Comments
Easily distinguished by its apple green cloth binding, the First Edition is uniform in style with the (red) binding of Ian Hamilton’s March. Churchill’s uncle, Moreton Frewen, handled final proofing of Malakand and inserted a plethora of grammatical errors in the First Edition, much to Churchill’s consternation. Frewin’s errors begin early with a host of unnecessary commas in the dedication on page (v). Notable, too, is the byline: “Winston L. Spencer Churchill,” which is the only reference to the author’s middle name (Leonard) among all of his books.
With the Second Edition, issued in late 1898, Churchill deleted this “L.,” but the letter had a life of its own, returning again in the 1901 impressions. The “L” was finally dispensed with in Churchill’s second book and never reappeared, although he retained “Spencer,” or at least “S,” to distinguish his work from that of the American novelist Winston Churchill.

Appraisal
Obviously, this is a key edition and one of the most collectible. Truly fine copies are extreme rarities, and even those with routine wear and tear are difficult to find.

 

§ § §

 

Editions

 

 

First Edition, Home Issue
Cohen A1.1 / Woods A1a

Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1898
Green cloth gilt stamped on the spine; blind and gilt stamped on the front cover. Ubulks 1 1/2 inches (38 cm). 352 pages numbered (i)-(xvi), 1-336, with or without a 32-page rear catalogue supplement that is printed on cheap stock; frontispiece photograph, illustrations and maps. Byline on the spine and on the title page contains Churchill’s middle initial “L.” The title page lists Longmans offices in London, New York and Bombay.
Published on 14 March 1898 at 7s. 6d. ($1.85). According to Woods, some copies were exported for sale by Longmans, Green in New York and sold at $2.50 in the U.S.


Quantities

A total of 1,954 copies were published, with 1,600 bound in March 1898 and 354 in June. Bibliographer Ronald I. Cohen, in reporting on his examination of the publisher’s records (Finest Hour #54, pages 14-15) states that there were not similar quantities of the Home and Colonial issues (as per Woods), but rather 2,000 Home and 3,000 Colonial. From the 2,000 Home issues, 46 sets of sheets were transferred for use in Colonial issues in October 1898, leaving the 1,954 disposed of as follows: 1,675 sold in Britain; 200 sent to New York for the American market; and 79 kept as “presentation copies.”

States and Impressions
No “states” can reliably be assigned. (See “Variations.”) There was one impression, with several binding and internal variants.

Dust Jackets
Though a jacket is presumed to have existed, no examples have been found.

Variants
Boards: In addition to the smooth apple green cloth most often encountered, there is a distinctly brighter, more grainy or mottled green cloth, which could possibly indicate the June 1898 binding.
Errata slips: Copies appear with and without a 13-entry errata slip. (On some slips, the line “CHURCHILL’S Malakand Field Force” at lower left is trimmed.) A longer, 16-entry slip also exists, but has been found only in Colonial issues. (See: 1ab) Errata slips do appear in various positions, contrary to Woods’s assertion; typically before or after the folding map opposite page 1. In his Finest Hour article on quantities produced, Cohen deduced that 3,300 copies of Malakand were shipped before the first errata slip was printed; therefore, about 1,700 of the combined Home/Colonial issues were available for the insertion of errata slips.
Rear catalogues: Printed on cheap paper, this 32-page supplement advertising other Longmans titles is dated on its final page either “12/97” or “3/98.” Since the catalogue describes books for sale in London, it is likely that the 200 copies of Malakand sold in America lacked catalogues but, then, many copies sold in England also lacked catalogues.
Protective Tissue Guards: All copies are likely to have contained a protective tissue guard over the frontispiece. Many have since lost these original tissues and traces of them may be hard to find. Woods mentions tissue guards over the folding maps at pages 1 and 146; these are rarely seen and do not appear uniformly.

States
Variants of this edition are sometimes called “states,” depending on which catalogue they contain or the size or presence of an errata slip. “First states” (Cohen A1.1.a) are represented as containing the “12/97” dated rear catalogue and no errata slip. (The first slips were printed 19 April, not soon enough for the initial binding in March.) Copies with “3/98” catalogues and/or errata slips are considered to be later states (Cohen A1.1.b), but these distinctions are not always borne out by the books themselves.
The problem is that sheets were printed in one location; catalogues were bound somewhere else, errata slips were printed in one or perhaps two other locations and inserted elsewhere. This leaves much room for inconsistencies, which are very apparent when examining numerous copies.
Writing in Finest Hour #70, bookseller Glenn Horowitz noted that Churchill did not post his manuscript from India to London until 29 December 1897, so Longmans must have had a supply of “12/97” catalogues when they began binding the book in March. Yet, not all copies contain catalogues. No one can say when the “12/97” catalogues ran out and were replaced with the “3/98” catalogues, or whether and how long an interval (or intervals) occurred when no catalogue of any kind was inserted. Likewise, although errata slips could not have been inserted before they were printed on 19 April 1898, they were often omitted later as well. We have seen copies containing the “3/98” catalogue but no errata slip.
Horowitz concluded that “copies of the Home issue exist with a catalogue in the rear dated either 12/97 or 3/98, except in cases where there is no catalogue at all…some copies have an errata sheet tipped in at various places amongst the first dozen pages; some do not; those with an errata were ‘distributed’ later than 19 April 1898, the day 1,700 erratas were printed. From that evidence no state of issuance can, or should, be ascertained.”

 

 

First Edition, Colonial Issue
Cohen A1.2 / ICS A1ab

Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co., London & Bombay, 1898
Grey cloth blocked pictorially on the cover with the “Longman’s Colonial Library” design in navy blue. The spine is gilt stamped. 8vo. Usually bulks 1 1/4 inches.
A softbound edition was also published with the “Longman’s Colonial Library” design in navy blue on light greyish green wrappers. 336 pages. Printed on thinner paper than the Home issue, with a frontispiece photograph, illustrations and maps. Though produced simultaneously with the Home issue, publication dates would have been later, occurring when copies arrived at their various colonial markets (chiefly India). The title page (and the cover of wrapper copies) omits New York from the Longmans offices, and states at the top: “Longman’s Colonial Library,” and at bottom, “This edition is intended for circulation only in India and the British Colonies.”

Quantities
A total of 2,796 copies were published. Three thousand sets of sheets were printed (concurrent with the 2,000-copy Home issue), from which 250 sets of sheets were extracted for the Canadian issue (See: A1ac), while 46 sets of sheets were added from the Home issue.

Impressions
According to Cohen (Finest Hour #47, page 14), 3,000 sheets of this issue were run off in March 1898. A “Bibliographical Note” in later editions confirms the March 1898 reprint, so the 3,000 were apparently produced in two pressings. We are not sure there is any way to tell the impressions apart; we have never seen a copy marked “Second impression.”

Dust Jackets
None are known to exist. The pictorial cover suggests the possibility that no jacket was issued on cloth copies for the Colonial market.

Variants
This issue is subject to the same variations of protective tissue guards as the Home issue. Colonial issues do not contain the 32-page advertising supplement.
Errata slips: On Colonial issues, two distinctive errata slips have been encountered: the 13-entry type described under the Home issue, and a 16-entry version in a different typeface. The latter has been found only in Colonial issues. It is likely that Churchill, finding three more errors, caused the longer slip to be printed and inserted in Colonial issues once the books arrived in India, which is where most of them were sold.

Comments
Both issues were printed simultaneously, but it took more time for the Colonial copies to reach retail shops. Although more wrapper copies than cloth copies were produced, the former are now rarer, with few known to exist; no doubt, many wrapper copies were simply thrown away. The clothbound version, while hardly common, may be found today in a handful of libraries and rare book catalogues.

Appraisal
At least as desirable as the Home issue, the clothbound Colonial is a Victorian period piece, with its Longmans trademark Colonial Library pictorial binding (a nice companion to the Colonial Savrola). The softcover, while much rarer today, is not as aesthetically pleasing.

 

 

First Edition, Canadian Issue
ICS A1ac

Publisher: Copp Clark, Toronto, 1898
Olive grey pictorial cloth gilt stamped on the spine, printed navy blue on the top board. 8vo. Usually bulks 1 1/4 inches. 336 pages. Printed on thinner paper than the Home issue, with a frontispiece photograph, illustrations and maps. Published March or April 1898, with cancel title for Longmans’ export agent in Canada; actual appearance was delayed until stocks arrived in Canada. Title page cancel differs from the Colonial issue in its publisher notation, which reads: TORONTO | THE COPP CLARK, CO., LIMITED | LONDON | LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. | 1898. Copp, Clark’s name also appears on the spine.

Quantities and Impressions
One issue of 250; taken from stocks of the Colonial Issue, with a cancel title denoting the Canadian Copp Clark Company.

Dust Jackets and Variations
None known to exist (See: A1ab). This issue is unlikely to contain errata slips, since it was part of the initial press run of 3000 sheets in March 1898.

Comments
We have seen only two examples of this issue. In appearance it is exactly like the Colonial issue, with the Copp, Clark imprints noted above. Copp, Clark was also responsible for Canadian Issues of at least three later Churchill works (See: A3, A4, A5).

Appraisal
A real prize for the collector of obscure variation, the Canadian issue is the rarest of the three First Editions of Malakand. Everything said under this heading for the Colonial issue applies to it as well.

 

 

Second Edition, Colonial Issue
ICS A1ba

Publisher: Longmans, Green and Co., London and Bombay, 1898
Grey cloth blocked navy blue pictorially on the cover in the “Longmans Colonial Library” design; the spine gilt stamped. 8vo. Usually bulks 1 1⁄4 inches. 336 pages. Printed on thinner paper than the Home issue, with a frontispiece photograph, illustrations and maps. Printed in November 1898 but published later. It was also published softbound in grey wrappers printed navy with the Longmans Green uniform design.

Quantities and Impressions
A total of 1,060 copies were produced: a first impression of 500 (November 1898), 60 sets of sheets transferred from the Silver Library issue (on or after June 1900), and a second impression of 500 (February 1901). There is a distinct difference in the title pages of the two impressions:

  • First impression: The words NEW EDITION appear above the publisher’s name, and the byline omits the initial “L.,” reading WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL.
  •  Second impression: NEW EDITION is replaced by NEW IMPRESSION, the “L.” returns to the byline, thus: WINSTON L. SPENCER CHURCHILL, and the date 1898 changes to 1901.

Dust Jackets
None are known to exist and the publisher may not have supplied any.

Variants
A clothbound copy has surfaced, originally sold in New Zealand, with a title page not conforming to either description above. Instead, the title page is an exact copy of the First Colonial issue of March 1898, including the 1898 date and byline initial “L.,” while the cover and spine byline omit the “L.” (This is the only Colonial copy of the Malakand binding we have seen with the “L.” missing.) The title page is integral with the subsequent pages, which are otherwise consistent with the Second Edition (Silver Library text).
The most logical conclusion is that this is one of the sixty Colonial issues made up from sheets transferred from the Silver Library on or after June 1900 to relieve a minor shortage. Since these sixty copies were created well before the 1901 second impression, we believe Longmans utilized a First Edition plate for the title page, while managing to remove the “L.” from the spine and byline. This copy is also unique among Colonial copies of Malakand for its repeat pattern on the endpapers of Longmans logos (“ship and swan”), identical to the endpapers of the Silver Library Edition, but printed blue-grey to match the Colonial binding, rather than the brown of the Silver Library. (These blue-grey endpapers also occur on the Colonial Savrola.)

Comments
In November 1898, Churchill was finally able to accomplish plate corrections for the many errors which so upset him in the First Edition. Evidently, the colonial market was the most in need because, according to the “Bibliographical Note” on the title page verso, the Colonial “New Edition” was published two months before the Silver Library issue (January 1900), which also would contain corrected pages.
With the exception of a slight color variation and one byline alteration (see above), these books were bound in the style of the First Colonial edition (A1ab). That their contents differed dramatically is the discovery of Brad Nilsson, who recorded his find in Finest Hour #73 (pages 25-27). Since this issue preceded the Silver Library by about two months, it is the first appearance of Malakand as Winston Churchill wished it to be read.

Appraisal
Because it contains a significantly revised text, this is an important issue and extremely rare. 

 

 

Second Edition, Silver Library Issue
Cohen A1.3 / ICS A1bb

Publisher: Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1899
Reddish brown cloth gilt stamped on the spine, with gilt or blind stamped rules on the front cover. 8vo. Usually bulks 1 1⁄4 inches. 340 pages, the last three blank; with a frontispiece photograph, illustrations and maps. Contains a new “Preface to the Second Edition” at page (xi). First printed in November 1898, but the official publishing date is January 1899. Some copies contain 32-page catalogues of other Longmans titles. As with all Longmans Silver Library titles, the endpapers are printed brown in a design of swans and ships between ivy leaves.

 

Quantities
A total of 2,500 copies were published: 1,500 printed in November 1898 and 1,000 printed in February 1901. Writing in Finest Hour #54, Cohen disclosed that, through 1912, 1,668 copies had been sold in Britain, 65 in the USA, 60 had been transferred to the Colonial issue, three used as presentation copies, leaving 663 in stock and 41 unaccounted for.

Impressions
The title pages of the two impressions are distinctly different:

  • The First impression title page contains the Silver Library ship logo, the byline WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL, the words NEW EDITION and the date 1899, despite a “Bibliographical Note” on the verso stating January 1900 as the publication date.
  • The Second impression title page omits the Silver Library ship logo (which is transferred in larger format to the first free endpaper), adds the byline letter “L.,” states NEW IMPRESSION and contains the date 1901. The title page verso contains a revised “Bibliographical Note” containing the reprint date (February, 1901) and a boxed advertisement for Churchill’s four subsequent books

See Cohen for the revised arrangement of preliminaries on the February 1901 impression. Rear catalogues are found in both impressions and bear various dates. The existence of a catalogue dated “5/03” in a 1901 impression suggests that not all sheets were bound after the second printing in February 1901, but kept in stock and bound as required. This accounts for the several variant bindings encountered. (See below.)

Dust Jackets
Jackets are not known but are assumed to have existed.

Variations
On the top board, the border rule has been found gilt stamped on both impressions, but also has been found blind on some 1901 impressions.
The 1901 impressions exist with a much smoother, medium red plain cloth, no blocking on the back board, and a blind border of the same dimensions as the standard binding, although it now fills the area completely, as the boards are about 4mm narrower. The spine has the Silver Library ship logo, but the shape of the ship is slightly different, and the date “1724” is on one line and the spine type is in a different font. The spine letter “E” has been changed from Middle English style to a block capital. The pages are trimmed slightly smaller and there are no catalogues in the two copies examined. This variant has also been encountered with the spine blocked black, instead of gilt.
Several other variations of the spine logo have been noted, bearing the two-line dates “17” over “24” and “17” over “25.”

To summarize:

Cloth color

Date Published

Letter “E” undr ‘1897’ on spine

Year on spine

Rear Catalogue

brown

1899

rounded leaf

17 over 25

10/99

brown

1899

rounded leaf

17 over 25

none

brown

1901

rounded leaf

17 over 24

5/03

smooth red

1901

straight rule

17 over 24

none

smooth red

1901

straight rule

17 next to 24

none

Comments
We collect first editions to get as close as possible to the author’s original expression but in the case of Churchill’s first book, the First Edition was irrevocably compromised by Frewen’s proofreading. It is the Second Edition, which conveys the text as Churchill wished it to be read from the start. This is at once apparent through the dearth of commas in the dedication, and Churchill’s added “Preface to the Second Edition,” dated “London, 15th October 1898.” (He also added a sentence to his original Preface: “On general grounds we deprecate prefaces.”)
Debate surrounds the question as to how many hours the plate corrections to the Second Edition required. Woods states that, “corrections on the first edition necessitated 122 hours’ work by the printer” and that the second “needed 196 hours’ work by the printer.” [We assume he means the November 1898 printing and the second in 1901.] Horowitz comments: “This is very confusing and also extraordinary: surely they could copy-edit The World Crisis and Marlborough in less time than that!” (Finest Hour #73, page 26). Yet, a lot of correction went on, for example, in the first ten pages between the First and Silver Library Editions; more than fifty changes.
Presumably, the 122 hours applies to the extensive plate changes in November 1898 for the greatly revised Second Edition. But then what about the 196 hours Woods mentions as being needed later? He could only be referring to the final, February 1901 printing. Yet, we cannot think that this task required 196 more hours. In those days, plates were heavy metal objects which had to be altered laboriously by hand. In a time of 50-hour weeks, it might require 122 man-hours to make Churchill’s November 1898 alterations. Perhaps the later figure of 196 hours is that another 74 hours were put in on the 1901 impression. It would be revealing if some dedicated collector would do a page-by-page check of a 1901 and 1898/99 issue, to discover exactly how many textual variations exist.

Some minor corrections to Woods: He states that in the 1901 impression “the initial L has been deleted from the author’s name on the spine.” This is incorrect; it was deleted on the New Edition of 1898/99. Woods also says the “Preface to the Second Edition” is exclusive to the Silver Library Issue (it is also found in the Second Colonial), and that all copies should possess a rear catalogue and tissue guards over the folding maps, but this is not necessarily the case.

Appraisal
The Silver Library is a serviceable and, more or less, obtainable issue, though given to page age-toning. Its chief value is that it contains Churchill’s text as he wished it to be. It has the advantage of being uniform with other Longman titles in the Silver Library series. This allows the fastidious restorer to replace missing endpapers with identical endpapers from other Silver Library titles. Fine examples of the first impression are rare, but the 1901 impression is still rarer in any condition.

 

 

Shilling Library Edition
Cohen A1.5 / ICS A1c/ Woods A1(c)

Publisher: Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., London, 1916
Medium blue cloth, gilt stamped or black on the spine, plain boards, a border rule on the front board blind stamped. 16mo. 384 pages. Frontispiece photograph, maps and plans. Decorative endpapers printed light blue. Published at 1 shilling (25c).

Quantities and Impressions
One impression was produced, but subsequent bindings of remaining unbound sheets are likely. (See “Variations”)

Dust Jackets
Publisher’s standard jacket for the series, printed black on light blue, showing an author’s photo and a decorative border on the front face, with other Nelson titles printed on the flaps and rear face.

Variations
Copies are known with and without gilt top page edges, and a very few exist with black rather than gilt spine blocking. Black lettered copies have not been encountered with gilt top page edges, and a bookplate in one identifying it as a June 1920 school prize suggests that it may represent a remainder binding of leftover sheets.

Comments
Described as a “Cheap Edition April 1916” on its title page verso, the Nelson Edition appeared as part of an extensive series of small-format, low-priced books. Among these, it was the second and final Churchill title (Nelson had published The River War the year before). This was the last edition of Malakand to be released for 74 years, and many copies were taken by soldiers to the front during the Great War, or to India, which accounts for the many owner inscriptions naming famous regiments). The Nelson Edition contains Churchill’s approved text as published in the Second Edition, and quite good maps for the size and price. Being cheap, the book tended to be treated carelessly, and most copies are well worn or display gutter breaks. Jacketed copies are extremely rare.

Appraisal
Until the advent of modern reprints this was the only inexpensive alternative to the early editions. The variations are scarce and worth looking for, as is, of course, the very rare “period” dust jacket, which would at least double the price of a copy so equipped.

 

 

The New Edition, 1989

A milestone for Churchill’s admirers was the resurrection of his first book in 1989. Features common to all issues of this edition are as follows: the text photographically reproduced from the Collected Works, Volume III (see Posthumous Collected Editions), which itself was reset from the Silver Library text approved by Churchill; a new foreword by Tom Hartmann (in addition to the author’s original preface); and an appendix on the International Churchill Societies. There are 236 pages, with maps and plans from the Collected Works (redrawn). This edition is not listed in Woods.
All new editions are essentially the same, nicely if economically produced. According to Leo Cooper, sales of English issues were “disastrous,” but the Norton issue had a long and happy run in the United States, and was then reprinted by Barnes & Noble. These are editions for readers, and for collectors wishing to read the text without wear and tear on valuable early editions.

 

New English Edition
Cohen A1.6 / ICS A1da

Publisher: Leo Cooper, London 1989
Black cloth gilt stamped on the spine, and plain boards. 8vo. Black dust jacket printed white and red. Photo of the author in dress uniform on the front face. One impression, with no known variations. Sold at £14.95.

 

New American Issue
Cohen A1.7 / ICS A1db

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co., New York 1990
Dark blue cloth stamped silver on the spine, and plain boards. 8vo. White dust jacket printed blue, gold and black. Photo of the author in dress uniform on the front face. One impression, with no known variations. Sold at $18.95.

 

New Paperback Issue
Cohen A1.8 / ICS A1dc

Publisher: Mandarin Books, London 1990
Pictorial color wraps. 8vo. One impression, with no known variations. Sold at £4.99.

 

Second American Issue
Cohen A1.9 / ICS A1dd

Publisher: Barnes & Noble Inc., New York 1993
This bookstore chain did a remainder reprint with similar physical characteristics but with Barnes & Noble replacing Norton as publisher on title page, spine and jacket. There was one impression.

 

 

Swedish: STRIDEN OM MALAKAND

Published in hardcover and wrappers by Skoglunds Bokforlag, Stockholm, in 1944. The softbound edition bears multicolor artwork of British cavalry on the front face. The format is 8vo, 232 pages; the wrapper version sold for 14.50 kroner, the blue cloth hardback 19.50 kroner. No dust wrapper has been found but Swedish practice suggests that one exists with a design similar to the wrapper version. Appraisal: This issue is considered the most attractive of all editions of Malakand, and the best produced because of the large format, high quality paper, and clear, large maps. Hardbound copies are rarely encountered outside Sweden.

 

 

§ § §

 

Click here for a list of terminology, bibliographic information, and other notes.