LAWRENCE, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A Triumph. [London: Privately Printed] 1926.
4o (234 x180 mm). (Some occasional minor pale spotting.) Original black pigskin (specially bound for Lawrence), edges flush and stained black, plain white paper endpapers (slightly rubbed); niger morocco folding case gilt, title gilt-lettered on front and spine, "Proof Copy August 1926" gilt-lettered on spine, green velvet lining, by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
Provenance: T.E. Lawrence, given to -- Charlotte Shaw -- Dr. Jacob Schwartz, American book dealer, resident for many years in England -- Stanley Bray, manager of Sangorski & Sutcliffe, sold to -- bookseller H.M. Mushlin, sold to -- Dr. E. Bruce Tovee (purchased in 1963; photocopy of letter dated 19 August 1963), sold Christie's New York, 7 December 1990, lot 6 (catalogued as "possibly Lawrence's", although further information received from Jeremy Wilson confirmed this copy to be "without question" Lawrence's proof copy given to Charlotte Shaw; sale addenda included).
LAWRENCE'S OWN WORKING PROOF OF THE SUBSCRIBER'S EDITION OF SEVEN PILLARS, LATER GIVEN BY HIM TO GEORGE BERNARD SHAW'S WIFE CHARLOTTE, "ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS" OF THE BOOK
This copy is bound without the 66 plates, the pictorial endpapers, and folding maps found in regular complete copies; the binder has cut down its size slightly so that the leaves now measure approx. 9¼ x 7 1/16 (234 x 179 mm) as opposed to approx. 10 x 7½ (253 x 190 mm) in regular copies; the text leaves seemingly the same as in regular copies, but with some illustrations and initials poorly printed (see, for example woodcut initial on p. 335); pasted to the verso of the front free endpaper is the rare woodcut, with blank margins cut away, by Blair hughes-Stanton illustrating the dedicatory poem (four special copies [see lot 101] of the Subscriber's Edition are recorded containing the woodcut [each numbered out of five done]--see Wilson, T.E. Lawrence 237). This plate is seemingly printed on a heavier stock than the india proof paper used in the recorded copies. Accompanied by a printed "Sketch Map" of the Near East on thin card (minor wear at fold) which appears in larger format at the end of Revolt in the Desert. Text with the following (proof?) marks in the text: an ink looping check mark at the bottom of p. 119, at the bottom of p. 176, and at the bottom of p. 536; additionally, there is a large pencil mark on the inner margin of p. 525, and a pencilled word ("extra") on the inner margin of p. 527. O'Brien A040, not mentioning proof copies, but noting this copy: "One copy(23.3 x 18.8 cm.) [sic] bound in black pigskin, all edges black, with no plates, thought to be Lawrence's proof copy."
This copy is one of the nine proof copies noted in a Lawrence manuscript (now at the University of Texas) entitled "History of Seven Pillars" and printed in facsimile in the Texas Quarterly, vol. V, no. 3, Autumn 1962. In this detailed accounting of copies of Seven Pillars Lawrence has a column headed "Proofs: sets of spoiled," followed by a list of nine recipients (his own name among them as "A/c Shaw"). In a letter from H.M. Mushlin to Dr. Tovee of 19 August 1963, the bookseller traces this copy's provenance: "This copy which is reputed to be T.E.L.'s copy, was bought be an America dealer, resident for many years in England, named Dr. Jacob Schwartz...He purchased this copy with a great deal of [George Bernard] Shaw material and sold the volume to Stanley Bray, managing director of Sangorksi and Sutcliffe...When the University of Texas issued the enclosed magazine [the Texas Quarterly mentioned above, a copy of which is in this lot] Schwartz wrote the enclosed note [see below] to Stanley and also enclosed the piece [see below] torn from the magazine which is enclosed herewith."
Schwartz's note to Bray is dated 3 February 1963 and is typed on an envelope: "Dear Mr. Bray: This article [facsimile of the Lawrence manuscript from the Texas Quarterly issue] may interest you. Opposite page 51--is a small note by T.E.L. of the proof copies. You have the one to G.B.S. that I sold you." Next to "A/c Shaw" in Lawrence's manuscript Schwartz has written to Bray "you have this." Mushlin's letter to Dr. Tovee continues: "The internal evidence of the truth of this statement is that all of the 4 copies of the nine [proof copies] I have seen were untrimmed in rough paper wrappers. This copy was obviously bound for use and, as plain as the binding is, betrays Lawrence's guidance in choice of style and material. Pigskin was almost invariably his choice; and the cutting down to make it easier to refer to any particular page; and this was a practical utility binding of useful size and shape. G.B.S. [George Bernard Shaw] had a set of sheets which he corrected very heavily and also punctuated. When these sheets had been returned, [he incorrectly speculates--see below] the chances are that T.E.L. sent him this copy to replace it as the only one at hand. T.E.L. afterwards sent him--in addition, a copy of the U.S. Cranwell edition, one of 22... When Stanley Bray bought the 'Proof' [this copy] he just put it away. He recalled it to mind when Jake Schwartz sent him the note and piece torn from the Texas Quarterly. A few months later, he wanted a considerable sum for some private purpose, he offered to sell it to me if I did not let anyone know he had sold it. I agreed, but ask you to keep this information private."
The mystery and confusion surrounding this unique copy was resolved in 1990 when Lawrence biographer, Jeremy Wilson, who edited the Lawrence correspondence with Shaw, generously provided information to Christie's which confirmed that this was indeed Lawrence's proof copy given to Charlotte Shaw. According to Wilson, and based on evidence in their correspondence, "it seems that Lawrence entrusted Charlotte with his cut-down working proof of Seven Pillars before leaving for India at the end of 1926 and asked her to send it on to him." On his return to England in the spring of 1929, Lawrence gave this proof copy to Charlotte Shaw who wanted a less bulky copy to read during a trip to Italy. In a letter from Lawrence to Charlotte Shaw, 18 March 1929, he writes: "Yes, it would be easy to cut down the S.P. into a smaller and handier size...but imagine anyone wanting it 'handy to read'. Sounds like a bed-side book...There is no vandalism in connection with modern books: and personally, if I could afford it, and wanted it, I wouldn't hesitate to have a 1st Folio Shakespeare cut up into separate plays for my private reading."
Before giving the "cut copy" to Charlotte, Lawrence had to retrieve it back from a partner to Sir Herbert Baker, named St. Ledger to whom it had been loaned. Baker was Lawrence's friend and landlord at 14 Barton Street, Westminster, where he wrote the second and third drafts of Seven Pillars. In a letter of 12 April 1929 Lawrence promised Charlotte: "Of course you should have the cut-down S.P. and any other S.P. you want! You were one of the architects. I hope St. Ledger will bring it round to you in time." Lawrence evidently kept his promise and the proof remained part of the Shaw collection purchased by Schwartz referred to in Mushlin's letter above.