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Sheets of The River War, volume I, with Churchill’s corrections on 17 pages.
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CHURCHILL, Winston S.

Sheets of The River War, volume I, with Churchill’s corrections on 17 pages.

Published: London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899

Stock code: 90104

Price: £18,500

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

Unbound pre-publication sheets of Churchill’s second book, with his holograph corrections, some quite extensive, to 17 pages. Working papers from the early part of Churchill’s writing career are exceedingly uncommon. Just one minor correction marked here seems to have been adopted in the published version, but a number were taken up in the single-volume edition published in 1902. Churchill’s tendency to rewrite, revise, amend, and generally to tinker with his work right down to the wire, and often beyond – “an indefatigable reviser” (Woods) – was the source of great frustration, and expense, to his publishers throughout his career. “Revise would follow revise, eventually to become a ‘Final Revise’; this title, however, rarely fulfilled its promise. More often than not ‘Overtake Corrections’ then began to arrive, sometimes even after the presses had started running” (Woods, Artillery of Words, p.156). Here Churchill has marked up an unsewn set of the sheets to the first volume, and it seems unlikely that this was in preparation for the single-volume edition as a number of his emendations actually represent expansions of the text. Of particular interest are those made in chapter III, “The Fate of the Envoy”, pp. 100–04 , which include a note of the source for his dramatic description of the death of Gordon; “I received this account in Feb. from a man I sent up to Khartoum from the steamer I was on about Feb. 10th, & have it now at home”. A highly desirable document of the writing of Churchill’s “superb” history (DNB) of the war in the Sudan and of his involvement in it.

Octavo. Loose sheets in recent blue full morocco, plush-lined box, title gilt to the spine. Half-title somewhat soiled and browned, last leaf with some marginal splits, no loss of text, and soiling verso, but otherwise just light toning and some marginal finger-soiling and chipping throughout, overall very good.

Bibliography: Cohen A2.1.b: Woods A2(a)

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