Revolt in the Desert, the publisher's limited issue of the first edition, number 101 of 250
New York: George H. Doran, 1927. Numbered and limited issue of the first edition. Hardcover. Revolt in the Desert was the first and only version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom published for general availability to the public in T.E. Lawrence’s lifetime. This is copy 101 of 250 of the publisher's limited issue of the first U.S. edition, hand-numbered thus on the limitation page. This is a better than near-fine, unread copy accompanied by the flawed and worn original dust jacket and slipcase. This is a large, handsome book. The volume measures 10.625 x 8.125 inches (30 x 20.6 cm), bound in heavy blue buckram with a brown leather spine label, gilt top edge, blue and yellow head and tail bands, and blue endpapers. The contents are printed on large sheets of laid paper with generous margins and untrimmed fore and bottom edges.
The edition is profusely illustrated with 18 plates, 10 in color, the full-page color plates each preceded by a tissue guard printed with caption, the black and white plates each tipped onto grey paper. It was originally issued in a dust jacket printed in black on ivory stock and housed in an unadorned blue-gray paper-covered cardboard slipcase. This copy #101 is a magnificent example. The blue buckram binding is square, clean, bright, and tight with almost no wear. The leather spine label is bright and intact. We note only a barely discernible hint of dulling to the lower spine a tiny bump to the lower front corner. The contents are immaculate, crisp and bright with no previous ownership marks and no spotting. The top edge gilt is uniformly bright. All illustrations are intact, including the striking frontispiece by Eric Kennington, as are all caption-printed tissue guards and the folding map following the index. Of special note are uncut signatures throughout; this book is unquestionably unread.
The publisher’s original jacket and slipcase have done their job protecting the book beneath and borne the brunt of wear and exposure in the process. The jacket shows considerable loss to the spine, with smaller loss to the top edge and lower front corner of the front face. The dust jacket is now protected beneath a removable, archival clear cover. The original slipcase is present, though dulled, worn, and lacking the bottom panel.
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." The publication history of Lawrence’s masterpiece is almost as complicated and interesting as the author himself. Lawrence nearly completed a massive first draft in 1919, only to famously lose it when his briefcase was mislaid at a train station. This first draft 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 by Lawrence. In 1922, a 335,000 word version was carefully circulated 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 far more than he made in subscriptions. To recover the loss, in 1927 Lawrence finally authorized an edition for the general public - but one even further abridged and entitled Revolt in the Desert. This first edition had both a regular trade issue and this limited issue, of which we here offer #101 of just 250 copies. By contrast, there were 750 copies of the publisher’s limited issue of the first edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published eight years later in 1935. Please note that this is a large volume and may require additional shipping.
Reference: O’Brien A105. Item #005717