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Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A Triumph.

Stock Code 107968

Privately printed, 1926.

Original price $100,000.00 - Original price $100,000.00
Original price $0.00
$100,000.00 - $100,000.00
Current price $100,000.00
Cranwell Edition - one of 170 complete copies. A lovely copy of the limited edition of Lawrence of Arabia's epic masterpiece, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1926 in which he 'reveals how by sheer willpower he made history' (ODNB).

Following his extraordinary military and diplomatic career in Arabia, and having already become a legendary figure in the public imagination, T.E. Lawrence purchased his Dorset cottage retreat Clouds Hill in 1924 to write his book about the war. The first draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom was completed by November 1919, but soon lost, according to the author, on Reading Station. A second draft was finished during 1922, and finally appeared as a private edition, reflecting Lawrence's love of fine printing, in the present form in 1926. An abridged version, Revolt in the Desert, was published in 1927.

'Subtitled 'A triumph', its climax is the Arab liberation of Damascus, a victory which successfully concludes a gruelling campaign and vindicates Lawrence's faith in the Arabs. In a way Seven Pillars is a sort of Pilgrim's Progress, with Lawrence as Christian, a figure sustained by his faith in the Arabs, successively overcoming physical and moral obstacles...' (ODNB).

This copy, in common with most complete copies, has page XV mis-paginated as VIII, and Kennington's coloured landscape tail-piece ('False Quiet') at the end of page XVIII. The 'Prickly Pear' plate is included, but as usual not the two Paul Nash line drawings putatively called for on pages 92 ('The prophet's tomb') and 208 ('A garden'), or the Blair Hughes-Stanton wood-engraving that in some copies illustrated the dedicatory poem.

The fact that this copy is signed by Hodgson, below his name, would indicate that this was is own copy. Further evidence being the nature of the copy itself. Briefly, Lawrence commissioned five or six different binders to produce copies for his subscribers. These bindings varied greatly and were capriciously distributed by Lawrence himself. How his decision process functioned is still something of a mystery to me but his more important subscribers got the more elaborate copies. E.M. Forster for instance received a copy bound in full. brick red morocco (this remains the finest example I ever held!) The more restrained bindings however seem to have been reserved for people involved in the publication.

As an experienced printer Hodgson was relied upon by the principal printer of this monumental work, the splendidly named Manning Pike. Pike had been selected for the job by Lawrence despite having never previously printed a book of anything like the substance of Seven Pillars. Indeed the only book Pike had produced prior to this was a sweet privately issued separate edition of the magical section from Wind in the Willows, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Consequently the role of that stalwart craftsmen H.J. Hodgson cannot be overstated.

Subscriber's edition, 4to; subscriber's or 'Cranwell' edition, one of 170 complete copies, inscribed by Lawrence 'Complete copy. i.xii.26 TES' on list of illustrations, and with 'Roberts' amended in ink to 'K[ennington]' as usual, this copy additionally signed by H.J. Hodgson (one of the printers) at his printed name on the colophon leaf. Printed in red and black, colour frontispiece portrait of Feisal by Augustus John and 65 plates (many coloured or tinted, 4 double-page) by Eric Kennington, William Roberts, Augustus John, William Nicholson, Paul Nash and others, 4 folding colour maps (laid on linen as issued), 58 illustrations in text (one colour) by Roberts, Nash, Kennington, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Gertrude Hermes and others, initials by Edward Wadsworth, illustrated endpapers by Kennington, with the four-page Some Notes on the Writing of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Shaw bound in before title. Quarter vellum, cream boards by Bumpus (stamped inside upper cover), titles to spine gilt, all edges rough gilt. Preserved in a matching, contemporary fleece-lined, vellum-backed solander box (with Leicester Gallery catalogue for the exhibition of the illustrations for this book, 1927 held in a recess inside the front board). A beautiful copy of one of the scarcer and most restrained binding variants.

O'Brien A040.

Provenance: Helen & Michael Oppenheimer.


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Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A Triumph.

Lawrence, T.E.

Stock code: 107968



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