The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

A Triumph


LAWRENCE, T.E. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom A Triumph

Privately Printed for the Author, 1926.

First (or Cranwell) edition, published for subscribers. One of 170 'complete' copies inscribed and initialled by Lawrence "Complete copy, 1.xii.26. T.E.S." on page XIX, the author's holograph emendation to the attribution of "The gad-fly" plate. As usually issued with the "The Prickly Pear" plate, not called for but not the two Paul Nash illustrations, shown in the list of illustrations. Original tan morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, title lettered in gilt to spine and front board, spine with five double bands, compartments with broad gilt rule either side, similarly broad single fillet panel to boards enclosing double panel with checquered corners, five large dots gilt to the head and tailcap, board edges and turn-ins ruled in gilt, all edges gilt, pictorial endpapers by Eric Kennington. Additionally and unusually signed by the book's printer, H.J.Hodgeson on p.[660] under the printers' credit. Endpapers by Eric Kennington. Frontispiece of King Feysal by Augustus John, 65 plates (mostly colour) and 58 text illustrations by John, Kennington, Williams Roberts, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton, William Nicholson and others. Four fold-out colour maps (two maps duplicated). A fine copy, with the binding exceptionally bright and free from wear and perfect internally. Housed in an old, fleece lined cloth clamshell case.

The author's magnum opus and famous account of his part in the Arab Revolt of 1916. The Seven Pillars was originally intended to be a simple account of the travels round seven great cities of the East, that Lawrence made in his pursuit of his interest in Middle-Eastern archaeology. This manuscript, written in 1913 was supposedly destroyed at the outbreak of the first world war. With his understanding of the Middle East and the Arabs, Captain Lawrence soon found himself working with military intelligence in Cairo and liaising between the British and Arab forces, which lead to him helping to unite Arab forces in support of the British strategy in the region and ultimately coordinating successful campaigns against the Ottoman army.
His account, which originally ran to over 400,000 words, was printed by the Oxford Times in 1922 and the positive response given to the text by Lawrence's friends lead him to consider publishing it to a wider audience. Lawrence never considered the text to be suitable for or of interest to the public at large and so made it available only to friends and acquaintances by subscription to this Cranwell edition.
Lawrence supervised the production at every stage and extravagantly had each copy bound in a different way by leading fine binders of the day (an act that virtually bankrupted him).
Lawrence vowed that the text would not be made publicly available in his lifetime. However, of financial necessity he authorised Jonathan Cape to publish a heavily abridged and sanitised version under the title of Revolt in the Desert in 1927, which stirred public interest to induce Cape to publish most of the full text within two months of Lawrence's death in 1935. It became an immediate best seller with 100,000 copies sold in the remainder of that year alone, and has since gone on to be one of the most influential and highly regarded pieces of military and literary prose of the twentieth century.
Churchill was of the opinion, "It ranks with the greatest books written in the English language."

O'Brian A040

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