New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1935. First, Limited edition. Hardcover. This is the publisher's finely bound, hand-numbered limited issue of the U.S. first edition in the original dust jacket and slipcase. This U.S. limited issue is bound in quarter dark brown pigskin over maroon buckram boards with beveled edges, maroon top edge, and red and yellow head and foot bands. It was issued with a dust jacket and stout cardboard slipcase, both in brown paper with laid paper chain and wire lines. The dust jacket is printed only on the spine, the slipcase unadorned. Here is copy #371 of 750, hand numbered thus on the limitation page.
Condition of the volume is very good plus. This limited issue’s pigskin spine proved highly susceptible to toning, soiling, and cracking, so most surviving copies suffer shabby spine appearance. This copy is a notable exception, with a beautifully square, tight, and sound binding. The boards are flawless with virtually no wear. Spine presentation is exceptional, the spine showing no cracking, vivid gilt, and only the slightest toning. We note a 1.25 inch angled scuff at the lower spine and the slightest shelf wear at the spine ends. The contents are immaculate apart from a little transfer browning from the pastedown glue and some spotting confined to the otherwise fresh untrimmed fore and bottom edges. We find no previous ownership marks. The dark red topstain is pristine and unfaded.
The dust jacket did its job protecting the book beneath, and bears the brunt of exposure to time. The jacket faces, protected by the slipcase, are nearly complete with just a bit of scuffing and old tape staining. The jacket spine is modestly toned with various wear and small holes and chip losses to a depth of .75 inch at the base of the spine. The jacket is newly fitted with a removable, clear, archival cover. The excellent condition of the book owes equally to the original publisher’s slipcase, which is fully intact though significantly scuffed, stained, and soiled.
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 spent the rest of his famously short life struggling to reconcile and reject, to recount and repress. Lawrence famously resisted publication of Seven Pillars 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". Only in the summer of 1935, in the weeks following Lawrence's death, was the text of the Subscribers' Edition finally published for circulation to the general public. Simultaneous with both the British and U.S. general trade first editions were finely bound, hand-numbered limited editions of 750 copies, of which this copy #371 of the U.S. first edition is a worthy survivor. Please anticipate the possibility of additional shipping cost for this large, heavy book, depending on destination.
Reference: O'Brien A053. Item #005711