[LAWRENCE, Thomas Edward (1888-1935)]. Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A triumph, 1919-1920. [Oxford: Privately Printed for the author at The Oxford Times, 1922].
Proofing sheets (279 x 205 mm). 308 numbered leaves (rectos only: 287 letterpress, 20 typescript, and one autograph manuscript); 6 folding lithographic and photographic maps with autograph additions.
1 title-page (typescript), 2 acknowledgment leaf to Geoffrey Dawson and Herbert Baker (typescript), 3 dedicatory poem to S.A. [i.e. Ahmed, or "Dahoum" as he was known] (typescript), 4 Contents summary (autograph manuscript), 5-10 Contents (typescript), unnumbered blank, 11-308 letterpress text (typescript book section titles and synopses of the Introduction and Books I-X on fols. 11, 26, 47, 70, 96, 133, 165, 196, 223, 245, and 270 respectively), six maps at end (one a photographic reproduction), numbered and referenced by Lawrence in red ink on folded fore-flaps and carefully marked up by him indicating journeys and routes. Without Epilogue divisional title (present in in the Metcalf copy at the Huntington Library only, in original manuscript).
The text was set in 6 pt Linotype by newspaper compositors at the The Oxford Times and worked off on a proofing press in double-column of varying length on the rectos of 287 sheets. The integrated letterpress, typed and manuscript sheets were foliated consecutively by Lawrence in red ink throughout, chapter numbers on letterpress sheets are supplied in red beside each running chapter heading (when present), shoulder notes on all letterpress leaves are rubricated in Lawrence's hand. Typescript contents leaves with Lawrence's page and map references in red. Typescript book section titles/book synopsis leaves before each book with Lawrence's map references in red.
Typed preliminaries, typed book summaries, and printed text on wove proofing paper (all apparently from the same stock).
Contemporary terra cotta niger gilt, sides with geometric gilt border consisting of a pair of double gilt-ruled fillets intersecting at each corner around a square tool, all within a double gilt-ruled outer border, spine in six compartments, gilt-lettered THE SEVEN PILLARS in the second compartment, a repeated geometric gilt-bordered panel in the remaining compartments, dated "1920" at foot of spine, board edges and turn-ins gilt, boa skin endleaves, five flyleaves at either end of laid paper watermarked "Michallet", upper and fore-edge gilt, bound for the author by C.& C. McLeish, stamp-signed on lower turn-in, (corners lightly bumped, some minor scuffing); full morocco pull-off case by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
T.E. LAWRENCE'S COPY OF THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE OXFORD 1922 FIRST EDITION, FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY, OF SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM--"COPY NUMBER I," THE MASTER CORRECTED COPY OF ONE OF THE LEGENDARY RARITIES OF MODERN LITERATURE
Lawrence had conceived of the title "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" as a projected title for an academic book relating to his early Oxford archaeological research projects in the Near East in 1910-11. "Even before starting to write the book he had decided on a title. It was derived from Proverbs (ix.1): 'Wisdom hath builded a house: she hath hewn out her seven pillars'. But 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' was also a deliberate echo of Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture, and there was a clear analogy between the structure of Ruskin's book and the idea behind Lawrence's project. This analogy was of course lost when he later used the title for his book about the Arab Revolt" (Wilson, p. 74).
The concept of writing a book based on his experiences during the Revolt evolved over the war years, and descriptive sketches of some of these experiences were kept in his journal from the time of his permanent posting to Feisal in February 1917. Yet it would be during his free time while at the Peace Conference in Paris that Lawrence began drafting his account of the Revolt. It was dedicated to his Arab friend Dahoum (his real name was Ahmed, hence the "S.A." in the dedication). He envisioned a monumental work, writing about his literary ambitions to David Garnett on publication of the Oxford text in 1922: "Confession is in the air. Do you remember my telling you once that I collected a shelf of 'titanic' books (those distinguished by greatness of spirit, 'sublimity' as Longinus would call it): and that they were The Karamazovs, Zarathustra, and Moby Dick. Well, my ambition was to make an English fourth..." (Garnett, ed. Letters, pp. 360-61).
HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPT AND PRINTED TEXT
Lawrence began work on the first draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in January 1919 and completed it by the end of July. This first version, save the Introduction and Books IX and X, were stolen from him at Reading station in November 1919. By December of the following month, he began rewriting the lost sections, but only through encouragement from friends, did he finish a second draft during an intense 30-day marathon in Barton Street. This version was completed in May of 1920, but was considered unsatisfactory by Lawrence, and is referred to in his letters as "the- book-to-build-the-house," and as "my Boy-Scout book." This version was worked on further for another two years but was ultimately abandoned (it is likely that Lawrence himself burned the second manuscript version at Chingford with a blow lamp in 1922). The third version was written in 1921-22 in London, Jidda and Amman; the manuscript survives in the Bodleian Library. To avoid a repeat of his lost first version, Lawrence decided to print a limited number of copies for revision (as an alternative to typescript and carbon copies) and to circulate them for critical comments.
"He learned that for little more than the cost of having it typed [according to Garnett the entire cost of composition and printing was #175, see Garnett p. 353], the Oxford Times printers could typeset the whole text in double-column and run off a small number of copies on a proofing press. He was attracted by this unusual idea, and arranged for eight sets of proof pages to be printed. He began sending text to the Oxford Times before the end of January. Chapters were submitted in a random order without their proper numbers so that the printers would be unable to assemble the book ... He kept back until last all the sections where the subject matter was potentially sensational ... At the beginning of June the Oxford Times returned the penultimate block of text, and he began to prepare sets of the chapters for binding. He had not risked sending the title or other preliminary pages to be printed, and, to complete the copies, he now had these typed out" (Wilson, p. 671-72). The present copy has the typed versions, except for Contents summary leaf (fol. 4), which is in manuscript in this copy (not present in any other copies in any form); the original manuscript versions for all other preliminaries and divisional titles are found in the Metcalf copy in the Huntington Library. "The eight sets of proof pages were returned to Lawrence uncorrected. As might be expected, they contained many errors and omissions. He made manuscript corrections in the five sets that he had bound in the autumn of 1922 so that he could circulate the book privately for criticism" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 830). Lawrence records some of the readers in the manuscript at the Bodleian and at the end of some of the copies (see Census), but the circulation history of each copy is often complicated by more than one copy being read by the same reader.
Among the various friends and writers lent or given copies were: G.B. Shaw, E.M. Forster, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Garnett, D.G. Hogarth, Gertrude Bell, Gen. Wavell, Alan & G. Dawney, Robin Buxton, and W.H. Bartholomew. At some point following revision, Lawrence lent his master copy to D.G. Hogarth, who lightly annotated some of its margins while in his custody. It is possibly this copy (or more likely copy ii, see below) that was in Hogarth's possession when Lawrence wrote Lady Scott in February 1923, "You want a copy! Unfortunately so do I. Of the six copies which exist only one has ever been returned by a borrower: and that copy was foolishly lent a second time, and hasn't come back. So as a fact I want six copies. Do you think D.G.H. [Hogarth] would trust you with a loan of his? Shaw apparently won't: Kennington has lent his to Clutton Brock. Garvin has one. A colonel called Bartholomew in the War Office has one: and I forget where the sixth is..." (Garnett, Letters, pp. 399-400). Encouraged by the positive reception from readers of the Oxford edition, Lawrence contemplated publication from the corrected 1922 text, but abridgment was an option over which he would agonize for over two years.
TEXT REVISION AND ABRIDGEMENT
As editorial advisor to the publisher Jonathan Cape, Edward Garnett was "the first 'literary' reader to see the book, and, as he worked through it, his letters continued to be full of praise ... Taking his cue from the letter Lawrence had written on August 23rd 1922, mentioning a possible abridgement of Seven Pillars, Garnett wrote offering to shorten the text for this purpose" (Wilson, pp. 684-85). He was sent an unbound set of the Oxford edition (now in the Houghton Library), and began the process of reducing the text by over half its length to approximately 150,000 words. Under this plan Lawrence would further reduce it to about 130,000 words for the completed abridgment.
After five weeks Garnett finished the first draft of the abridgement (provisionally titled War in the Desert) and Lawrence picked up the marked-up sheets in London in mid-October. He wrote Hogarth on the 29th of October: "...Garnett's reduction is in my hands, and is a good one: but it's a bowdlerising of the story and the motives of it, and would give the public a false impression. I don't like the notion of doing that. It's a favourably false impression, you see' (Wilson, p. 687). Lawrence continued to waiver about abridging the full text, but he had become dissatisfied with the 1922 text as a whole, believing that the text was too lengthy and awkward for an elegantly produced edition. Added to this concern was Lawrence's belief that his earlier style had become dated and he now expressed a preference for a simpler prose. He wrote in desperation to Hogarth for his opinion in July 1923: "What am I to do? Publish the Garnett abridgement after all, with such restrictions as seem fit to me, and use its profits to publish a limited illustrated complete edition ... publish nothing ... or print privately? Hardy read the thing lately, & made me very proud with what he said of it. Shaw (have you seen him?) praised it. Alan Dawnay compares it, not unfavourably, with the lost edition. I still feel that it's a pessimistic unworthy book, full of the neurosis of the war, & I hate the idea of selling it. If I won't make profit of my war-reputation, still less should I make profit of my war-story. Yet Lowell Thomas lurks still in the background, & if his book is the fulsome thing I expect, he will force the truth out of me. It might be better to get my blow in first. You have read the original and the abridgement ... will you tell me what, in my place, you would do? T.E." (Garnett Letters, pp. 428-29).
By the close of 1923 Lawrence finally decided to undertake his own abridgement and through the combined encouragement of Hogarth, Dawnay and Curtis determined it would be published in a limited edition and sold by subscription. Lawrence decided to publish privately 100 copies of his abridgement to be sold at thirty guineas a copy. "Hogarth, Curtis and Buxton now set about finding subscribers, demonstrating their confidence that Lawrence would see the project through. If he failed, their only security was the Garnett abridgement, which could be published to meet his financial obligations although it would hardly recompense the disappointed subscribers. For this reason Lawrence had agreed to appoint Hogarth his literary executor..." (Wilson, p. 732). After much delay, the final abridged subscriber's edition was published in 1926 in an edition of 170 complete copies of an edition of 211. It was shorter than the Oxford text by approximately 83,000 words, or 170 pages.
The debate, however, over which version was preferable persisted. Lawrence wrote to Mrs. Thomas Hardy in May, 1927, "I'm grateful for your kindly judgement of The Seven Pillars. It is inevitable that people should call it less good than the 'Oxford' text, in which I first lent it you: but their judgement leaves me cold. Only I have read the two so closely as really to see the differences: and my taste in every case approved the changes. The Seven Pillars is 85 of the Oxford text: and the little cut out was all redundant stuff: mostly superfluous adjectives" (Garnett Letters, p. 515). Among the readers of both versions with a preference for the unabridged version were Robert Graves, E.M. Forster, and G.B. Shaw.
LAWRENCE'S MASTER COPY
In the recently published version of the complete 1922 text of Seven Pillars, Jeremy Wilson notes "that when Lawrence revised the text for the 1926 subscribers' edition, his starting-point was not the manuscript (by then in the Bodleian Library) but a copy of the Oxford Times proof" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 831). While correcting the Oxford text, Lawrence used the present copy as a master, to incorporate the numerous corrections he made in the other sets, and record additional errors and omissions for future publication. The corrections made by Lawrence while re-reading the text in the Oxford Times proof range from word-changes and spelling corrections to deletions and insertions. "Lawrence's manuscript amendments in Copy i of the Oxford Times proof include more than seven hundred revisions to the Seven Pillars text: i.e. instances where he altered wording that the printer had correctly reproduced from the manuscript" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 837). In this copy these were generally done in black ink throughout (the other copies have most text corrections in red ink). For a complete listing of these amendments in this copy see Wilson, pp. 837-863.
A note by Lawrence at the front of the Bodleian Library manuscript reads: "Copy No. i is the best copy, for corrections, though its punctuation needs wholesale revision, according to this MS copy" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 832). Curiously, on the same page he mentions "copy No. ii given to D.G. Hogarth" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 832). As stated in Lawrence's own limitation statement in the present copy, "This is No. i of five copies made up of the eight copies printed in Oxford in 1922..." Yet it also contains Hogarth's pencil inscription as a recipient at some point. It is more probable that copy ii was initially given to Hogarth and circulated to Dawnay, according to Lawrence's note (and now the Metcalf copy in the Huntington Library). Copy i would therefore have been given later by Lawrence to Hogarth, his literary executor, once he was finished working on it for safe-keeping ("to be retained till T.E.L. requires it"). According to Lawrence's account, copy i was the copy lent to R. Kipling and G.B Shaw to read.
A comparison with the 5 other surviving copies shows the "master copy" contains by far the greatest number of corrections made by Lawrence (other copies contain a range from approximatley 30 to 70 the number of corrections found here). Also, it is the only copy to contain rubricated shoulder notes, a feature which was incorporated into his 1926 abridgement.
THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ONLY SIX COPIES, AND ONE OF ONLY TWO STILL IN PRIVATE HANDS.
1. T.E. Lawrence (initials at head of front flyleaf in black ink and limitation statement on front flyleaf opposite title in Lawrence's hand in red ink: "This is No. I of five copies made up of the eight copies printed in Oxford in 1922. It belongs to TELawrence, of Pole Hill, Chingford, Essex." Lent to:
2. David George Hogarth (1862-1927), Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum and Lawrence's longtime friend, mentor and literary executor (inscription in pencil on front flyleaf: "Deposited with D.G. Hogarth, 20 S. Giles, Oxford, to be retained till T.E.L. requires it," and his marginal notations in pencil). According to Garnett, "the most important of his early friendships--perhaps the most important in his life--was with D.G. Hogarth, with whom he remained in close touch from when he attracted his attention as a schoolboy in the Ashmolean, until his death in 1927. 'He was the only person to whom I had never to explain the "why" of what I was doing', Lawrence wrote to Lionel Curtis. Hogarth was, I think, the first to recognize the extent of Lawrence's genius: he encouraged him to learn Arabic and got him a demyship at Magdalen College which enabled him to work for three years at the Carchemish dig..." (Garnett, Letters, p. 40)
3. "Remained in the [Lawrence] family until the 1970s" (Wilson, Complete Text, p. 830).
4. Edwards H. Metcalf, grandson of Henry E. Huntington, his collection deposited at the Huntington Library.
CENSUS OF COPIES OF THE 1922 OXFORD EDITION
1. "Copy i": T.E. Lawrence's corrected master copy.
2. British Library, "Copy ii": Charlotte F. Shaw copy. Presented to the Library by G.B. Shaw 13 May 1944. Bound by McLeish in dark blue morocco, covers with gilt interlacing strapwork borders, boa endpages. Contains 3 typed preliminaries (title, acknowledgement, dedicatory poem), carbon Contents, typed introduction summary and book synopses. 6 maps (unnumbered and bound in different order than other copies). Text corrections in red, chapter numbers in red, unfoliated. Lawrence's limitation inscription (in red) reads: "This copy belongs to T.E. Lawrence Pole Hill Chingford Essex to whom it must eventually be returned. T.E.L. Copy No ii of five copies printed in Oxford in 1922. The punctuation is the printer's own: and the text is generally uncorrected, the only sound text is the manuscript, accessible to readers in the Bodleian Library." Additionally it is inscribed by Lawrence in pencil on a rear flyleaf: "This copy has been lent in turn to GB Shaw, SC Cockerell, Siegfried Sassoon, EM Forster, CM Doughty, Frank Stirling, HG Wells, Ella Wheeler Wilcox [in another hand]."
3. British Library, "Copy iii": Arnold Walther Lawrence copy. Presented to the Library by Lawrence's brother. Bound McLeish in green quarter morocco and cloth, plain endpapers. Contains 3 typed preliminaries (as copy above), carbon contenets, typed introduction summary and book synopses. 6 maps (Map I, the Arabian Region, varies form the other copies). Corrections in red, chapter numbers in red, foliated in red. Lawrence's limitation inscription (in red) reads: "this is the third of eight copies printed in Oxford in 1922 (five of which have been assembled) is the property of TELawrence, Pole Hill, Chingford, Essex." Pencil note on front pastedown by Lawrence reads: "sent to (i) Edward Garnett ('G') (ii) W.H. Bartholomew (iii) A.P. Wavell (iv) Mrs. Fontana ('F') (v) Thomas Hardy (vi) Robin Buxton (viii) H. Granville-Barton." Annotated (some text deleted) in pencil by Garnett signed "G," and pencil notes by Fontana signed "F."
4. Bodleian Library, Oxford University, "Copy iv": Eric Kennington copy (his ownership note tipped-in at front). Bound by McLeish in quarter dark blue morocco, plain endpages. Contains 3 typescript preliminaires (as above), typed introduction summary, Carbon contents and book synopses. 6 maps (numbered in red, and with routes marked in red). Text corrections, chapter numbers and foliation in red. Lawrence's limitation inscription (in red) reads:
COPY TO COME
5. Huntington Library, Edwards Metcalf Collection, [copy vi]: Lt.-Col. Alan G.C. Dawnay copy. Bound by McLeish in full green morocco, covers with gilt floral borders, plain endpages. Contains Lawrence's manuscript for introduction, index, dedicatory poem and chapter synopses. No limitation number or inscription.
6. Houghton Library, Harvard University, [copy vi]: Edward Garnett copy, bound later from loose sheets. Possibly incomplete. Heavily revised by Garnett (some Lawrence holograph) for his abridgement. Not collated, but according to Lawrence's note in the Bodleian manuscript, "some sheets were given to Douglas Carruthers (of copy vi)."
A seventh copy (unbound) was lost lost during the preparation of the 1926 Subscribers' Edition. A 20-leaf surviving portion of it was offered by Maggs Brothers in 1991 (Cat. 1110, item 60) and a 6-leaf fragment was sold at Christie's New York (7 December 1990, lot 4). The final copy was dispersed by Lawrence with his letter of apology for the delay in publication of the Subscribers' Edition (see Christie's London, 7 June 2000, lot 47).
Brown, M. (ed.), Letters of T.E. Lawrence, London, 1988; Garnett, David (ed.), The Letters of T.E. Lawrence, New York, 1939; Hart, B.H. Liddell, 'T.E. Lawrence' in Arabia and After, London, 1934; Lawrence, A.W. (ed.), Letters to T.E. Lawrence, London, 1962; Lawrence, A.W. (ed.), T.E. Lawrence by his Friends, Garden City, 1937; O'Brien, Philip M., T.E. Lawrence: A Bibliography. St. Paul, 1988; Wilson, Jeremy, Lawrence of Arabia, New York, 1990; Wilson, Jeremy (ed.), Seven Pillars of Wisdom ... the complete 1922 text, Fordingbridge, 1997.