Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A Triumph.
LAWRENCE T.E. (1926.)
A flawless and chaste copy.
Illustrated with initial letters by Edward Wadsworth and Blair Hughes-Stanton; 66 plates, mostly coloured, and 58 illustrations in the text, by Eric Kennington, Paul Nash, William Roberts, Blair Hughes-Stanton and others; folding maps and pictorial endpapers. Subscribers, or "Cranwell" edition, one of 170 complete copies, so inscribed by Lawrence. 4to., original blue morocco by Best, signed on the front turn-in, lettered on spine in one of six panels. T.e.g., fore and lower edges uncut. No Place, [London, Privately Printed].
A fine copy (but for a paperclip mark on the first blank endpaper, in an austerely perfect binding.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is Lawrence's literary masterpiece, described by Churchill as "unsurpassable. It ranks with the greatest books ever written in the English language" by E.M. Forster as a "masterpiece", and by Siegfried Sassoon as a "masterpiece . . . it is a GREAT BOOK". The story is unutterably romantic - the young and mysterious Englishman fights a fast, mobile and effective war alongside noble Arab chiefs in the heat of the desert - and it made a powerful contrast with the mud, trenches, cold and futility of the western front. In short, in a war with few heroes, Lawrence stood alone for the power of the individual. The publishing history of Seven Pillars is fascinating in its own right. It was first published in an edition of eight copies only, printed very badly without any adornment by the Oxford Times in 1921: five of these eight copies survive. In contrast with the brutally functional look of the Oxford edition, for the 1926 edition Lawrence embarked on a self-publishing programme of unusual ambition and complexity. Rather than give the work to an established printer Lawrence hired a modestly experienced man called Pike, and designed and supervised the production himself: similarly he, with Eric Kennington organised the illustrators, an impressive list including many of the best book-illustrators in Britain. The work, predictably, took much longer than expected, and the costs rose similarly, so that the subscription of 170 copies at 30 guineas apiece came nowhere near paying off Lawrence's debts over the book (which debts were settled by the publication of the abridgement Revolt in the Desert).The book was an immediate and huge success: within months of its completion a copy had been sold for £500, other offers of £600 had been rejected, and as much as £20 was being offered for a loan of the book.
Stock Code: 227702