Fordingbridge, Hampshire: Castle Hill Press, 2000. First and Limited edition. Hardcover. This is the publisher's full goatskin binding of the limited edition. Of a total planned edition of 702 copies (as printed on the limitation statement), only about 500 were ultimately issued, of which 40 were bound thus in full brown goatskin with triple gilt rule front cover border, gilt spine print, all edges gilt, head and foot bands, and striking marbled endpapers. These goatskin-bound copies feature special, supplemental content, containing 16 pages of facsimiles, including the working draft of an apparently unpublished essay on Lawrence by Henry Williamson which we believe is available in print only here. This copy is hand numbered “52” on the limitation page. Condition is immaculately fine, with no discernible wear, flaws, signs of use, or previous ownership marks. The volume is housed in the publisher's rigid slipcase, also in fine condition, featuring brown cloth caps and lighter brown laid-paper covered sides.
This is one of the volumes in the T. E. Lawrence Letters series published by 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). From the publisher: “T. E. Lawrence was fascinated by the art of creative writing, and by creative writers. This fascination drew him into friendships with poets and novelists such as Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster. When Lawrence read Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter in 1928, he recognised that its author had extraordinary descriptive power: 'I put Williamson very high as a writer,' he later wrote. From this beginning grew a correspondence that lasted until Lawrence's death in 1935. The two kept one another’s letters, and the series printed here is largely complete. Until now, the principal published accounts of their relationship have been those by Williamson, notably his contribution to T. E. Lawrence by his Friends (1937), and his book Genius of Friendship (1941). In this volume, we are able to read both sides of the correspondence for the first time… Williamson's letters provide a fascinating insight into a novelist's mind… As Williamson became better established and more confident, he had less need of Lawrence's helpful criticisms and encouragement; or at any rate Lawrence felt that there was less that he could usefully offer. Gradually, their evident differences became more significant than the interest in the craft of writing that had drawn them together… Williamson damaged the relationship in 1933 by including Lawrence, unasked, as a character called 'G.B. Everest' in The Gold Falcon – even quoting from his letters. Lawrence made light of it; but since he dreaded publicity he may well have feared that a closer friendship with such an unpredictable novelist would be a risk as long as he wished to remain in the ranks of the RAF. Later, he was nonplussed when Williamson told him about the complications that had arisen from extra-marital entanglements… Despite these reservations, there really was an unusual quality in their relationship. Williamson is revealed here as a skillful and supremely observant writer, but nevertheless a man who was introspective, egocentric, insecure, and intensely lonely. Exactly the same words could be used to describe Lawrence, and the similarity that Williamson sensed was real. He was writing to someone he knew would understand.”. Item #004797