New York: George H. Doran, 1927. Numbered and limited issue of the first U.S. 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 171 of 250 of the publisher's limited issue of the first U.S. edition, hand-numbered thus on the limitation page.
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 laid paper sheets 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.
This is a good plus copy. The blue buckram binding is square and tight with sharp corners, though with minor blemishes to the rear cover, modest spine toning, and some wear to the leather spine label, including partial loss of the “SE” in “DESERT”. The contents are clean and complete with no previous owner names and no appreciable spotting. Age toning shows at the untrimmed fore and bottom edges and the top edge gilt is a little dulled and dusty. There is offsetting to the half title recto from a laid-in 1955 TIME clipping about Lawrence
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.
This first edition had both a regular trade issue and this limited issue of 250 hand-numbered 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 #007394