New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1935. First edition. Hardcover. This is the first U.S. trade edition in the original dust jacket and publisher's slipcase. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the story of T. E. Lawrence's (1888-1935) remarkable odyssey 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 famously resisted publication of his masterpiece for the general public during his lifetime. The saga is remarkable. He nearly completed a massive first draft in 1919, only to famously lose it when his briefcase was mislaid at a train station. It was never recovered. At a fever pitch, Lawrence wrote a new 400,000 word draft in 1920. This punishing burst of writing was followed by an equally brutal process of editing. In 1922, a 335,000 word version was circulated only to select friends and literary critics - the famous "Oxford Text". George Bernard Shaw called it "a masterpiece".
Nonetheless, Lawrence was unready to see it distributed to the public. Finally, in 1926, a further edited 250,000 word "Subscribers' Edition" was produced by Lawrence - but fewer than 200 copies were made, each lavishly and uniquely bound. The process cost Lawrence more than he made in subscriptions. To recover the loss, Lawrence finally authorized an edition for the general public - but one even further abridged, titled "Revolt in the Desert". It was only in the summer of 1935, in the weeks following Lawrence's death, that the text of the Subscribers' Edition was finally published for circulation to the general public.
This is the first U.S. trade edition, a fine copy in a very good dust jacket, still housed in the publisher's original slipcase. The khaki cloth binding is pristine, square and tight with bright gilt, sharp corners, and no wear. The contents are likewise exceptionally clean, bright with no spotting, perfect fore and bottom edges, and dark, unfaded topstain. We note an inked gift inscription to “Selden” dated “Christmas Day, nineteen thirty five” on the front free endpaper and the decorative bookplate of the recipient – “Selden Stephen Hoos” affixed to the front free endpaper.
The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original “$5.00” front flap price, the sole loss being trivial chipping at the spine head. The jacket faces and flaps are bright and clean, the spine moderately and uniformly toned with a few faint moisture spots. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover. The unusually good condition of the book and dust jacket of course owes to the scarce original publisher's slipcase. These thin cardboard slipcases were quite fragile and few appear to have survived. This slipcase remains complete and intact, though worn at extremities. The pasted paper illustration on the front cover is still complete and firmly affixed. Please anticipate the possibility of additional shipping cost for this large, heavy book, depending on destination.
Reference: O'Brien A053. Item #005672