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Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence first edition 1935

Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence first edition 1935


London: Jonathan Cape, 1935  


Large 4to., brown publisher’s cloth, lettered and decorated with crossed sword device in gilt to the upper board; spine lettered in gilt; outer and lower edge untrimmed; in the printed dust jacket (30s. net); pp. [vi], 7-672; black and white frontis showing a sculpture of the author; together with numerous other full-page illustrations by the author, here reproduced in black and white; and four folding maps; a  few light spots, perhaps a touch shaky in the binding; backstrip lining showing to foot of spine; a very good copy nonetheless, in the fragile dust jacket which is a little creased, a couple of small nicks to foot; one small closed tear to upper corner of front panel; also very good. 


First trade edition, in the original dust jacket. Seven Pillars was first printed in 1922, in an edition of just eight copies intended for the author’s private use. Of these, only six known copies survive intact. A subscribers copy followed in 1926, privately published in a run of 211 copies, and given to the author’s family and friends. This edition of 1935, published posthumously, was the first for public sale. It sold out within a month, with second, third, and even fourth impressions appearing just a few weeks later. 


His most famous work, Seven Pillars serves as memoir of the famous ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, including the Arab Revolt against the Turks during WWI, and a historical account of Middle Eastern and Military History. It is “a personal, emotional narrative of the Arab revolt in which Lawrence reveals how by sheer willpower he made history…a testimony to his vision and persistence and a fulfillment of his desire to write an epic which might stand comparison in scale and linguistic elegance with his beloved Morte d'Arthur and C. M. Doughty's Arabia deserta. Subtitled 'A triumph', its climax is the Arab liberation of Damascus, a victory which successfully concludes a grueling 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.” (ODNB)

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