Lot 331
  • 331


40,000 - 60,000 GBP
43,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Thomas Lawrence
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a triumph. [Privately Printed by Manning Pike and H. J. Hodgson], 1926
  • Paper
4to, the Subscribers' or "Cranwell" edition, one of 170 complete copies (inscribed by the author "Complete copy. 1.XII.26 TES." on p.xix together with correction of artist from "Roberts" to "K|ennington|" for "The gad-fly" plate), printed in red and black, frontispiece portrait of King Feysal after Augustus John, 66 plates (mostly in colour) and other text illustrations after Roberts, Kennington, Nash, Nicholson and others, 4 folding coloured maps, decorative initials by Edward Wadsworth, endpapers by Kennington, contemporary olive morocco by McLeish ("T |E |L") vertically aligned on spine), preserved in box, some discoloration to spine, occasional foxing, slight discoloration on p.48, box slightly defective


O'Brien A040

Catalogue Note

The limited edition of Lawrence's epic masterpiece, in which he "revels how by sheer willpower he made history" (Oxford DNB).  O'Brien notes that "each copy |is| bound differently". As usual, this copy includes "The Prickly Pear" which is not called for in the list of illustrations, but lacks the Paul Nash line drawings called for on pages 92 and 208. This is one of c.70-75 copies bound by C. and C. McLeish, for whom see next lot.

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 (Lawrence James, Oxford DNB).