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MY EARLY LIFE: A Roving Commission

-Signed: “To Winston from Winston”-


First Keystone Library Edition (Second Printing)

By: Winston S. Churchill

Thornton Butterworth Ltd. [London]

Biblio: (Cohen A91.3.b) (Woods A37a)

8vo (392 pages, with photo frontispiece, maps, plans, one folding map, 16 tipped-in illustrations)

Hardcover (with Dust Jacket) [Smooth pink cloth]

Item Number: 204859

Collector's Guide

My Early Life is the only volume of personal memoirs that Churchill ever wrote. It is, arguably, his most entertaining book and an excellent entry point into his writing; a vivacious memoir of youth and wayward school boyhood. Published in the U.S. under the title A Roving Commission, the book has been endlessly re-issued in a variety of editions. True first editions, however, remain quite rare.


This Second Printing of the Keystone Library edition (First Binding State) is signed and dated in ink by Winston Churchill on the second front free endpaper: ”To Winston from Winston May 3, 1937.”

The marvelously inscrutable inscription is to WINSTON FREDERICK CHURCHILL GUEST, the son of Churchill’s first cousin and former private secretary Frederick “Freddie” Guest (who was the third son of Lord Randolph’s sister, Cornelia). Freddie Guest died of cancer on April 28, 1937. The Churchill archives record a letter of condolence from Winston Churchill to Winston Guest sent on May 19,1937. No doubt this book accompanied it. The Second Printing of the Keystone Library edition indeed came out in January 1937.

The dust jacket is additionally signed hastily in pencil above the title: “W.G. from Winston Churchill.” The jacket has darkened with age and exhibits some faint staining along the folds but is entirely intact. The book itself, bound in smooth pink cloth, remains bright and fresh. The contents are fine, with very light, very scattered foxing here and there throughout.

A rather extraordinary rarity. There isn’t another like it.