My Early Life by Winston Churchill, First Edition, in Cosway-style Asprey Binding, 1930

Churchill, Winston. My Early Life: A Roving Commission. London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1930. First edition, first printing. Octavo. Bound in full red crushed Morocco leather with Cosway-style portrait of Churchill, elaborate gilt tooling and titles, by Asprey of London. 

Presented is a first edition, first printing of Winston Churchill’s My Early Life: A Roving Commission. The book was published in London by Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1930. The book is elaborately presented in a Cosway-style binding, in full crushed red Morocco leather by Asprey of London.

This autobiography covers the time from Churchill’s birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. My Early Life begins with Churchill’s first memories of the “Little Lodge” in Dublin where his father lived as secretary to his grandfather, the Duke of Marlborough, and his early schooling.  The story of his years at the Royal Military Academy, his adventures as a war reporter in Cuba, India and South Africa, and the famous charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman follow. Here and in his later account of entering politics and Parliament, readers are given a view of Churchill’s emerging political philosophy, accented with his thoughts on British society and the British Empire.

My Early Life was well received in its day. A 1930 review in The Times Literary Supplement claims the book “is his finest literary achievement…better than anything which has gone before. Its variation and development in the matter of style are the greatest of its charms. One fancies one hears the small boy, the youth at Sandhurst, the young soldier, the slightly older politician each telling his story in his own way. Of course no gentleman cadet, still less a small boy, could write like that; that Mr. Churchill should contrive to bewitch his readers into the momentary impression that they can is proof that he has at his command the art of the autobiographer.” Due to its success, My Early Life has been reprinted in fourteen major English editions, fifteen foreign languages, and in countless impressions, more than any of his other books except The Second World War.

The binding and presentation of this book is exquisite. Bound in red crushed Morocco leather by Asprey of London, the front board is decorated with a Cosway-style inlaid watercolor oval portrait of Winston Churchill. The portrait is framed with triple gilt fillet lines and further gilt tooled chain decoration, and large corner gilt rampart British lions and portcullises.  The spine has raised bands separating six compartments that are gilt tooled in panels and decorated with elaborate borders and gilt lion and portcullis devices repeated between the gilt tooled bands. Two compartments are gilt lettered with title and author. The back board has a gilt embossed facsimile signature of Winston S. Churchill, similarly bordered with British lions and portcullises. The boards have wide turn-overs, gilt tooled matching the framework of the covers around red moire silk endpapers. The top, bottom, and fore edge are all gilded. In all, this is a stunning binding. The book is housed and protected in a red cloth-covered slipcase with a red ribbon pull. 


Very good condition, internally pristine and the Asprey binding without flaw. Bound in full red crushed Morocco leather with gilt borders and illustrations on front and back boards, Cosway-style inset oval portrait, in full color, of Winston S. Churchill on front boards, gilt embossed facsimile signature of Winston S. Churchill on back boards. Raised bands, gilt titles and decorations on spine. Red silk and leather end pages, with Asprey stamp at back. Gilt to top, bottom, and fore edge. Red cloth slipcase with red ribbon pull. Interior pages are very healthy with 27 halftone plates, maps and plans, one folding. Half-title, frontispiece portrait of Lady Randolph Churchill.  Octavo, pp. 392.

Dimensions (with slipcase): 9"H x 6 1/8"W x 2 1/8"D

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