Fordingbridge, Hampshire: Castle Hill Press, 2009. First and Limited edition. Quarter Leather. This scarce limited edition publishes T. E. Lawrence's early writings about the history of the Arab Revolt. The publisher is Castle Hill Press, the premier editors and fine press publishers of material by and about T. E. Lawrence, founded by Lawrence’s official biographer, Jeremy Wilson (1944-2017). Towards ‘an English Fourth’ gathers surviving notes, articles and drafts that reflect the two early manuscripts of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, neither of which survives. Specifically, this textually unique volume contains seventeen surviving accounts of the Arab Revolt, or aspects of it, that Lawrence wrote between October 1918 and August 1921.
There were only 227 copies of this edition, of which 150 copies were bound in quarter crimson goatskin with cream canvas sides, head and tail bands, and top edge gilt. The volume was issued in a tan, laid paper slipcase. This copy is #100, hand-numbered thus by the publisher on the title page verso limitation statement. We acquired this copy from the original subscriber and the original purchase receipt is laid in. This copy is in truly fine, as-new condition. The slipcase is mildly sunned but otherwise fine.
T. E. 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 would spend 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. (Only a limited Subscriber’s edition and a heavily edited and abridged version were published during Lawrence’s lifetime.)
The title of Towards an English Fourth is taken from a passage in a 26 August 1922 letter from T. E. Lawrence to English literary editor, writer, and critic Edward Garnett: "Do you remember my telling you once that I collected a shelf of 'Titanic' books . . . and that they were The Karamazovs, Zarathustra, and Moby Dick. Well, my ambition was to make an English fourth."
From the editor's Introduction: "During the period 1919-22 T.E. Lawrence's intellectual and creative powers were at their zenith. At the Peace Conference, in Whitehall and at All Souls he mixed with some of the most brilliant men and women of his time. His personal outlook was informed by two cultures. His opinions drew on an extraordinary range of experience, and on first-hand knowledge of the peoples of the Middle East. His writings during this period show a breadth of analysis unparalleled in anything he wrote before or afterwards. In Seven Pillars of Wisdom and in essays like 'The Changing East' and 'Evolution of a Revolt' you can see the calibre of mind that impressed contemporaries such as Winston Churchill, Arnold Toynbee and Lionel Curtis. These qualities are surely one of the reasons why Seven Pillars of Wisdom has had such enduring appeal." Item #004594