New York: George H. Doran, 1927. Second U.S. edition ("Gift Edition"). Hardcover. Revolt in the Desert is the only version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom published for the general public in Lawrence’s lifetime. This is the second American edition – the so-called “Gift Edition” issued for the 1927 Christmas season. Although it resembles the English first edition in dust jacket, binding, and format, illustrations render this second American edition unique. The text contains 18 black and white line cuts from the famous 1926 Subscriber’s edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom found in no other edition of Revolt in the Desert, and striking Kennington endpapers are also exclusive to this edition.
Condition approaches near fine in a good plus dust jacket. The brown buckram binding is square, clean, bright, and tight with vivid spine gilt and only trivial shelf wear to the bottom edges. The contents are clean with no spotting and no previous ownership marks. All illustrations are intact, as are the Kennington endpapers and the folding map following the text. The brown-stained top edges retain uniform, unfaded color and the untrimmed fore and bottom edges are notably clean, showing only a hint of age-toning. The dust jacket is nearly complete, with only trivial loss at the upper hinges and corners, two tiny abrasion holes at the lower hinges, and a neatly price-clipped upper front flap. Nonetheless we grade the jacket as only “good plus” owing to significant spine toning which has rendered the red title print no longer legible and moderate overall soiling. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
The story is that 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 magnum opus for the general public during his lifetime. The history of the publication of Seven Pillars of Wisdom and its many versions - including Revolt in the Desert - is almost as complicated and interesting as the author himself. Lawrence nearly completed a massive first draft of Seven Pillars of Wisdom 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. He contemplated selling his library then perhaps some of his property at Pole Hill, Chingford.
His reluctant solution to alleviate the financial pressure was Revolt in the Desert. He finally settled on authorizing publication of this abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which he undertook to do himself. Taking a set of proofs of the Subscriber’s Edition, Lawrence swiftly marked out whole chapters and large portions of others. “Chapters 1-7 were dropped completely, and of 652 pages 211 were omitted entirely… Once his debt had been cleared, he ordered that no more copies were to be printed.” (O’Brien, pp.77-78) Revolt in the Desert was to be the only version of his work published for the general public during Lawrence’s lifetime.
Reference: O’Brien A108. Item #006613