• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7652

    Exploration and Travel

    25 September 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 111

    GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1856-1950)

    Price Realised  


    GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (1856-1950)

    Three typed letters and one autograph letter signed ('G. Bernard Shaw', 'G.B.S.) to T.E. Lawrence ('Lawrence' or 'Luruns'), Ayot St Lawrence, 10 Adelphi Terrace and 4 Whitehall Court, London, 28 December 1922 - 8 February 1931, the earliest letter including a press cutting from the Daily News of the same day, revealing Lawrence's covert enlistment in the RAF and referring to his composition of Seven Pillars, 3 pages, 4to, typescript, and 1½ pages, oblong 8vo, in autograph. Provenance: Sotheby's sales, 2 July 1981, lots 270-1, and 17 December 1981, lots 267 and 269; the Spiro Family Collection.

    'The cat being now let out of the bag', Shaw's first letter begins (referring to the enclosed cutting), 'presumably by Jonathan Cape with your approval, I cannot wait to finish the book before giving you my opinion ... IT MUST BE PUBLISHED IN ITS ENTIRETY, UNABRIDGED', going on to offer further detailed advice on the publication process for Seven Pillars of Wisdom, backed up by a personal loan if necessary. In January 1924, Shaw describes having given the Prime Minister [Stanley Baldwin] 'a vivid description of your success in making the army ridiculous', and lobbying him for a pension for Lawrence: 'I explained that your objection was to being forced to exploit your campaign for a living as a literary man, and not to having it recognized by the country in the proper way'. On 7 March 1927 he recounts another meeting with Baldwin, a recipient of 'a set of the Pillars', with renewed lobbying for the pension, and refers to his Spectator review of Revolt in the Desert. In February 1931 Shaw mentions complications involving a gala performance in aid of RADA, and speculates as to Lawrence's behaviour in the enquiry into a crash: 'as you will probably insist on conducting the enquiry, and as you will want to save your ambitious commander from being sacrificed, the future, to my vision, is on the knees of the gods. Pray Heaven they sack you!'.

    Shaw's lobbying of Stanley Baldwin was an important factor in smoothing the vicissitudes of Lawrence's service career. Lawrence also frequently sought his advice as to Seven Pillars. (4)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium