MY EARLY LIFE: A Roving Commission

-SIGNED First English Edition (Later Printing)-


First English Edition (Fifth Printing)

By: Winston S. Churchill

Thornton Butterworth Ltd. [London]

Biblio: (Cohen (Woods A37a)

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

Hardcover (without Dust Jacket) [Smooth pink cloth]

Item Number: 204717

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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 very good copy of the Fifth Impression of the First English edition, is signed and dated in ink by Winston Churchill on the second front free endpaper with an unusual, if not utterly unique, inscription:

“With all the compliments of the season,
From Winston S. Churchill 1931.”

We have never before encountered a similar seasonal inscription from Winston Churchill in any other book. Adding to the mystery, there is the shadow of a thoroughly erased previous gift inscription on the preceding first front free endpaper.

The book is bound in smooth pink cloth that is scuffed and a bit shelfworn but remains bright on the front and rear faces. The spine has faded, as per usual with this book, but retains color. The spine head and tail are ruffled and the joints are well-creased, with a closed tear at the tail. The cloth on the rear face has a rough scratch. The corners are crunched but the binding is tight. The contents are fine, with pronounced toning to the prelims, particularly the signature page, and very light, scattered foxing throughout.

This volume came from the estate library of HENRY “HANK” LUCE III (1925-2005), the eldest son of HENRY R. LUCE, founder and longtime editor of Time magazine.

How the book came to be in the Luce family library, we can only speculate. Winston Churchill, it must be noted, visited New York City during the Christmas holiday season of 1931. He was infamously struck by a car on Fifth Avenue on the evening of December 13, 1931 while on his way to the home of his close friend and investment advisor, BERNARD BARUCH, then-age 61, who was at this time in the midst of what would be a long-term affair with the 28-year-old CLARE BOOTH; already a Vanity Fair magazine journalist in 1931. Clare Booth would marry Henry Luce in 1935, just weeks after Luce’s divorce from his son Hank’s mother.

That’s all we know.