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THE STORY OF THE MALAKAND FIELD FORCE
-Signed First Colonial Library Edition in Fine Leather Binding-
First Colonial Library Edition (Second State)
Longman’s Green & Co. [London]
Biblio: (Cohen A1.2.c)(Woods A1ab)
8vo (337 pages, with frontis portrait and 6 maps, including 2 fold-out in color)
Hardcover [Red leather]
Item Number: 14067
The Story of the Malakand Field Force was Winston Churchill’s first book, a chronicle of true-life military adventures drawn from newspaper dispatches filed by the then-22-year-old correspondent while serving on India’s Afghanistan-bordering Northwest Frontier under Major-General Sir Bindon Blood. Wrenching to read how little has changed in this region since Churchill’s time. The First Edition is easily distinguished by its apple-green cloth binding but Malakand is prized by collectors in almost any edition.
This First Colonial Library edition is inscribed and signed in ink on the half-title to: “E.J. Turner from the Author,” a form of inscription that we have only once before encountered in a book purportedly signed by Winston Churchill.
The inscription is secretarial, though Churchill rarely bestowed books without signing them himself. He was still in India when the Colonial Library Edition of MALAKAND first appeared and may have had the book sent with his absentee compliments. Colonial Library editions were “intended for circulation only in India and the British colonies,” and had very poor survival rates as a result, due to the harsher climate conditions overseas. The faded original front cover here, which has been bound in at the rear, bears witness to this. The contents are fine, however, and surprisingly unfoxed, with some very modest professional page repair to the prelims. The frontis tissue guard and all maps are present.
The book has been sumptuously rebound in full crimson morocco by Bayntun Riviere of Bath, the front board bearing Churchill’s facsimile signature in gilt, the spine gilt lettered, with raised bands in seven compartments that contain the Churchill rampant lion crest reiterated. All edges are gilt and the marbled endpapers are trimmed in gilt-tooled leather.
This copy is also distinguished by two variants cited by Ronald Cohen in his new Churchill bibliography. The printed number for page 231 bears the “raised 1.” And the errata slip is that which Cohen suggests was Indian in origin, preceding the domestic errata because Churchill was in India at the time of MALAKAND’s publication and anxious to “catch the Indian edition,” where the First edition’s many apalling proofing errors, “would be most laughed at.” A wonderful and singular rarity. As to the identity of the recipient, E.J. Turner, he remains a mystery.