London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1927. Numbered and limited issue of the first edition. Quarter leather. This is the English first, limited, and numbered edition of Revolt in the Desert - the first version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom published for the general public in Lawrence’s lifetime. This limited edition was distinctly different from its English trade edition counterpart. The binding is larger and features quarter brown pigskin spine over brown buckram boards with a gilt rule transition. The extensively illustrated contents feature generous margins, untrimmed fore and bottom edges, gilt top edges, and green and yellow head and tail bands. The edition was limited to 315 copies. The large size of the volume was dictated by inclusion of colored plates from the 1926 Subscribers’ edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. As a result, the text differs from the trade issue; “In order to justify the inclusion of some of the persons represented in the plates and otherwise mentioned in the text, a few extra paragraphs were added to the abridged text.” (O'Brien, A101, p.79)
This copy is all the more scarce due to presence of the original dust jacket, the rear panel of which advertises Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty with Introduction by T. E. Lawrence. This is a sound and complete copy, but with exterior wear and defects. Hence we grade this copy conservatively as only “good” and the jacket as “poor”. We price this copy accordingly. The leather is unfaded and the spine gilt bright, but wear is readily apparent and there is brown leather reinforcement beneath the original binding at the spine head. The buckram boards are respectably clean with only light shelf wear, but the lower front cover cloth is mildly blistered. The contents are the book’s best feature, clean and complete, with all illustrations present, the rear folding map intact, no previous ownership marks, and only a trivial hint of spotting, primarily confined to the untrimmed page edges. The limitation page is hand-numbered “161”. The original dust jacket, distinctively printed “Limited Edition” on the front face, is noteworthy only for surviving. The jacket shows considerable wear, spine toning, overall soiling, and various losses, including to the upper edges, a large irregular strip spanning the spine head, a smaller irregular strip at the spine heel, a loss to the lower spine above the publisher’s name, and a loss at the lower fore edge of the front face. The 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." He spent the rest of his famously short life struggling to variously reconcile, reject, recount, and repress this indelible experience.
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. After years, multiple drafts, and brutal rounds of editing and reduction, in 1926, a "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. To pay his debts, he finally consented to 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 the only version of his work published for the general public during Lawrence’s lifetime.
Reference: O’Brien A101. Item #006616