Coneygar Lodge, Quenington, Gloucestershire: The Reading Room Press, 2013. Limited, hand-numbered edition. Hardcover. This is a handsome, limited edition of the insightful and compelling memoir On Collecting Books and Printing Them Too by Viscount Carlow. This is number 6 of 110 printed copies, hand-numbered thus on the colophon. The substantial Foreword by Paul W. Nash is signed by him “Paul W. Nash” below his printed name. The book is bound in quarter grey-tan linen with patterned paper-covered boards. The title is printed in gilt on the spine as well as vertically on the cloth portion of the front cover. The contents are printed on fine, deckled edge, laid paper stock with a tipped-in frontispiece portrait of Carlow by Kennington and grey-tan laid paper endsheets.
Condition is as-new, with no wear, flaws, soiling or marking to the binding or contents. Accompanying this book is the laid-in publisher’s prospectus, itself quite a handsome production, consisting of eight pages printed in red and black, string bound in colored, patterned paper wraps. Condition of the Prospectus is pristine.
George Lionel Seymour Dawson-Damer, Viscount Carlow (1907-1944), was much like his contemporary and friend T. E. Lawrence – a literate and voracious reader with a ranging intellect. Carlow first made acquaintance of Lawrence in 1932. Their swift friendship shared many of the same diverse interests “including a love of flying and sailing, of aircraft and boats, of reading and literature, and of fine books and printing. Carlow was entrusted with one of the six copies of the 1922 edition of Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and around 1933 the two men discussed the possibility of running a private press together.” Instead, when Lawrence crashed his motorcycle on 13 May 1935, Carlow “hurried to Bovington Camp Hospital where he remained with Lawrence until his death six days later.” The next year, Carlow did alone what he and Lawrence were unable to do together; in 1936, Carlow began the Corvinus Press. Carlow became one of the trustees of T.E. Lawrence’s Literary Estate and Corvinus Press published a number of works by Lawrence – as well as those of other noteworthy literary figures.
Carlow’s memoir is brief, covering his relationship with Lawrence, the establishment of the Corvinus Press, and the press’s first years of operation. Its brevity is due in part to Carlow’s sudden death. In an echo of his friend’s death by one of the machines he loved, Carlow was killed in a 1944 airplane crash. It can be assumed, therefore, that his memoir is an unfinished draft – but what it lacks in length and notional completion it compensates in the value of its content and testimony.
Carlow is worthy not just of being red by book collectors, but envied; Carlow was one of few who was loaned one of the precious few copies of the coveted 1922 Oxford Edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. To be more specific, Carlow was the only recipient given outright stewardship; the other four were loaned but never given back. As Lawrence humorously said, “I have never given copies of this book to anybody. They have all been loaned on a long indefinite loan...”(Carlow). When T.E. Lawrence died, he left behind no provisions for the handling of the Oxford Editions, and so all those in possession of the edition at the time of his death became de facto stewards of the text, Carlow included. Item #006640