“YOU WANT TO GET SHOT AT. STAY HERE, AND I PROMISE YOU SHALL HEAR BULLETS IN PLENTY”: SAVROLA, 1900, CHURCHILL’S ONLY NOVEL
CHURCHILL, Winston. Savrola, A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania. London: Longmans, Green, 1900. Octavo, original green cloth. $1850.
First English edition, first issue, of Churchill’s only novel, a “political-romance” about a revolution in the fictional Mediterranean country of Laurania, 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). “Although Savrola is Churchill’s third published book, it was the first book he undertook and the second he completed” (Cohen A3.1a). The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899) were published before Savrola. 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, this first English issue was printed from the American plates; English first editions of Churchill are generally preferred. First issue, with copyright on verso of title page. With leaf advertising Churchill’s previous two books at rear. Cohen A3.2.a. Woods A3(b). Langworth, 41-42. Contemporary owner signature.
Occasional scattered light foxing to interior, inner hinges expertly reinforced; light rubbing to extremities of bright cloth. A near-fine copy, increasingly scarce in original cloth.