A gifted writer, Winston Churchill wrote forty-three books that filled seventy-two volumes. In 1953 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his contribution to the written and spoken word. My Early Life is the more endearing of Churchill’s works, resulting in enduring popularity.
In 1924 early selections of the work appeared as articles in Strand Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Nash’s Pall Mall, the Sunday Chronicle, and the News Chronicle. Positive critical reviews called for more, and in October of 1930, the complete book was published in London by the publisher Thornton Butterworth. Our printing is a first edition, first printing beautifully rebound in a Cosway-style Asprey red leather and gilt binding.
Although Churchill’s public reputation was at the time abating, with disagreements within the Conservative Party over the issues of protective tariffs and Indian Home Rule, the first edition of My Early Life sold out within its first month of publication. By Christmas, three other editions had followed. Since then, the book has seldom been out of print, with translations in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, and English and French Braille, just to name a few. In 1972, a film version followed, produced by Carl Foreman.
For those who only know Churchill in the context of World War II, My Early Life will be a lovely and surprising read. The pages take us to his childhood and years as a school boy. Then we follow Churchill as a young officer, foreign correspondent, and end with his early years as an emerging politician.
The book is telling of Churchill’s motivations, even as a young boy, and gives insight to how such a man came to lead a great nation. But the book also proves interesting as a historical snapshot of the times. Upon completion of the manuscript, Churchill wrote that he found he had “drawn a picture of a vanished age.” “The character of society, the foundations of politics, the methods of war, the outlook of youth, the scale of values, are all changed and changed to an extent I should not have believed possible in so short a time.”