“YOU WANT TO GET SHOT AT. STAY HERE, AND I PROMISE YOU SHALL HEAR BULLETS IN PLENTY”: SAVROLA, 1900, CHURCHILL’S ONLY NOVEL, SCARCE IN ORIGINAL CLOTH
CHURCHILL, Winston. Savrola, A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania. London: Longmans, Green, 1900. Octavo, original teal cloth. $1850.
First English edition, first issue of Churchill’s only novel, scarce in original cloth.
While serving with the Fourth Hussars in Bangladore, India, the young Churchill spent much of his time sharpening his intellectual skills—reading Gibbon, Macaulay, Plato and the Annual Register. "He was sticking to tough reading and writing letters meshed with abstruse allusions. His brother officers wondered how he did it. The climate was punishing. This was the Raj in its heroic period, without air conditioning, refrigerators or even electric fans. One thinks of Kipling in the Punjab only a few years earlier, sweating and scribbling under the same sun through long afternoons in his darkened bungalow, struggling to immortalize the age. Churchill was writing too… He was writing his first book, and only novel, Savrola" (Manchester, 246). His work on the novel was interrupted, first by fighting in Crete and later by the Malakand revolt. When he resumed work on the novel, he was already a minor celebrity, having published Malakand Field Force to moderate success in 1898. Shortly after completing The River War (1899), Churchill also finished his novel, a "political-romance" about a palace revolt in the fictional Mediterranean city of Laurania. Patrick Powers has argued that this novel was future Prime Minister's "premiere literary effort, [giving] dramatic voice to Churchill's mature philosophical reflections about his fundamental political and ethical principles at the very moment when he settled on them for the rest of his life"; noted historian A.L. Rowse commented that Savrola "holds one's attention for its own sake" (Langworth, 38). Preceded by the American edition by two months; English first editions of Churchill are generally preferred. This edition was struck from the American plates. First issue, without title page cancellans with blank verso. Without virtually unobtainable dust jacket. Cohen A3.2.a. Woods A3(b). Langworth, 41-42.
Interior fine, inner hinges expertly reinforced. Light rubbing and spotting to original cloth and slight toning to spine. An extremely good copy of this very scarce Churchill title, especially in original cloth.