Fordingbridge, Hampshire: Castle Hill Press, 2009. Hand-Numbered Limited Edition. Full Leather. This Castle Hill Press limited, finely bound, hand-numbered edition publishes the original (1928) text of The Mint, together with significant "Later Writings about Service Life" and additional unpublished material. Here is copy #1, the first of just 50 issued thus, unique in both binding and content. Of a total edition of 277 printed for subscribers, 50 were issued in full blue-grey goatskin with raised spine bands, head and foot bands, gilt edges, silk ribbon place marker, and dark grey laid paper endpapers with a letterpress seaplane design. The Uxbridge chapters are printed on gray paper, while the Service chapters and the Later Writings About Service Life, and Uxbridge and Cranwell Notes (unique to the full goatskin copies) are printed on white paper. The limitation page is hand-numbered and the publisher's Introduction is hand-signed. The pale blue cloth covered slipcase is lined in dark blue felt.
This copy is hand-numbered “1” by the publisher on the copyright page. Condition is spectacularly fine, the binding and contents pristine. The slipcase is likewise fine apart from a barely noticeable, miniscule bump to the lower front corner.
The Mint is T. E. Lawrence's unstintingly candid portrait about life in Royal Air Force ranks. Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) found fame as instigator, organizer, hero, and tragic figure of the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, which he began as an eccentric junior intelligence officer and ended as "Lawrence of Arabia." This time defined Lawrence with indelible experience and celebrity which he spent the rest of his famously short life struggling to reconcile and reject, to recount and repress.
Lawrence told the tale of this time in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a work with a tortuous writing, editing, and publishing history culminating in posthumous publication. Perhaps equally tortuous is the tale of how this story about the R.A.F. was written and published. In a state of nervous exhaustion following the First World War, his work on the post-war settlement, and writing and re-writing Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in 1922, Lawrence enlisted in the ranks of the R.A.F. under the name of John Hume Ross. He swiftly concluded "there is grand stuff here, and if I could write it..." so he began making notes "scribbled at night, between last post and lights out, in bed."
In January 1923 his identity became public and he was discharged from the R.A.F., but allowed to re-enlist two and a half years later, this time using the surname "Shaw", under which he had meanwhile served in the Tank Corps. On re-enlistment, he resumed making notes. In 1927, while serving in Karachi, Lawrence arranged these notes into a manuscript which he circulated to a small number of people, including Air Marshal Hugh Trenchard. As with Seven Pillars of Wisdom, publishers were eager, but Lawrence resisted, in part due to Trenchard's concerns.
A saga followed in which efforts were made to control publication via uncirculated copyright editions in both the U.S. and Britain; the book remained unavailable to the public. Lawrence made revisions in the last months of his life with a possible view to publication in a private edition (as he had done with the 1926 Subscriber's Edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom), but the work remained unpublished until 1955, after the death of an officer described unfavorably in the text. Even then, the British edition blanked out objectionable words and substituted name changes to avoid libel.
This spectacular limited edition of The Mint is the most comprehensive and elaborate yet published, containing “the full 1928 text of The Mint, together with a selection of Lawrence's later writings about his life in the ranks... The narrative of Lawrence's RAF years therefore begins in 1922 and ends with his retirement in February 1935... The result is a far more interesting version of Lawrence's second book..." Item #004405