LAWRENCE, Thomas Edward (1888-1935) -- SHAW, George Bernard (1856-1950). Autograph manuscript draft by Shaw, including cancellations and corrections, of the preface to Lawrence's Revolt in the Desert, written in first person on Lawrence's behalf, n.p., n.d. [27 June 1926], in pencil, 2 pages, 8vo, tipped on guards into an album, with typewritten transcriptions of the draft and the published foreword; contemporary light brown half morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, upper cover blocked in gilt with crossed-daggers motif, spine lettered in gilt.
'This book, written in 1919, was printed in full on a newspaper machine at Oxford shortly after, not for publication, but for my own convenience and that of my friends. As they demanded a more presentable edition and were willing to pay an extravagant price for it, I reprinted it for them in a satisfactorily artistic form in 1926, with copious pictorial documentation and decoration ... I find myself obliged to recover my solvency by sanctioning the publication at large of the present abridgement'.
The manuscript represents an interim stage between Lawrence's first draft, sent to Charlotte Shaw on 24 June 1926, and the final version. Charlotte noted that Shaw worked on his revision in the morning of 27 June, and she sent it off the next day. The missing first page of a letter from Lawrence to Charlotte dated 1 July 1926 probably included his comments on Shaw's version. The final published version (signed 'T.E.L.') differs completely from Lawrence's first draft (now in the British Library) and includes minor variants of Shaw's revision in the first two paragraphs. It omits Shaw's sentence in the last paragraph of the manuscript, 'For reasons which will be either obvious without statement or else unintelligible, however lucidly stated, I was determined not to coin the blood of Arabs, to say nothing of my own, into drachmas: in short, not to make money out of the experiences narrated in this book'.
Revolt in the Desert, written in three months in 1926, was the abridged version of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and was principally intended to make money to remedy the debts Lawrence had incurred from the extravagant and expensive 'Subscribers' edition'. The copyright of the abridgement was owned by a board of trustees and the eventual profits went to charity. Ironically, it was far more profitable than any of Lawrence's other works. The survival of the present manuscript resolves the previous uncertainty about the extent of Shaw's contribution. Lawrence's original draft and the related letters are published by J. Wilson in The Correspondence of T.E. Lawrence and Bernard and Charlotte Shaw (2000).