Fordingbridge, Hampshire: Castle Hill Press, 2012. Limited and Numbered First Edition. Quarter goatskin. Boats for the R.A.F. is the publisher’s second volume about Lawrence's service life, bringing together reports and correspondence about his work helping develop high-speed motor boats. The volume is a companion to 'The Mint' and Later Writings About Service Life. Much of its content is previously unpublished.
Of a total edition of 227 copies bound variously in full goatskin, quarter goatskin, or cloth, this is copy number 71. This copy features a quarter blue-gray goatskin binding over blue cloth sides. The contents are bound with illustrated endpapers, fold-out illustrations, and head and foot bands. The limitation statement is hand-numbered and the editor's introduction is hand-signed. The book is housed in the publisher’s matching blue cloth slipcase. Condition is very good plus. The binding is square, tight, clean, and unfaded with sharp corners. We note only a hint of scuffing to the corners and cloth sides, doubtless a result of contact with the slipcase. The contents would be pristine but for a barely discernible hint of light spotting, confined to the otherwise bright page edges. The publisher’s rigid cloth slipcase is covered in the same cloth as the binding and lined with darker blue paper. The slipcase has fortunately done its job protecting the book within, but suffered for its labor; the slipcase is fully intact but the edges of the slipcase opening show some discoloration at points.
Lawrence’s literary and intellectual reach far exceeded the world and words of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. To the point, Lawrence’s friend and admirer Winston Churchill said: “Lawrence had a full measure of the versatility of genius… He was a savant as well as a soldier. He was an archaeologist as well as a man of action. He was an accomplished scholar as well as an Arab partisan. He was a mechanic as well as a philosopher. His background of somber experience and reflection only seemed to set forth more brightly the charm and gaiety of his companionship, and the generous majesty of his nature.” (Great Contemporaries, p. 139) Consonant with his versatile genius, Lawrence’s published works span crusader castles and ancient Greek translation to technical manuals on high speed boats. This volume contains the letters and reports relating to Lawrence's work on RAF boats between 1931 and 1935.
In a state of nervous exhaustion following the First World War, his work on the post-war settlement, and writing and re-writing Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in 1922, Lawrence enlisted in the ranks of the R.A.F. under the name of John Hume Ross. In January 1923 his identity became public and he was discharged from the R.A.F., but allowed to re-enlist two and a half years later, this time using the surname "Shaw", under which he had meanwhile served in the Tank Corps. He remained in the R.A.F. until 1935.
From the spring of 1931 until the end of his R.A.F. enlistment in February 1935, Lawrence was part of a small team that developed and perfected the new types of RAF boat. He worked on seaplane tenders and armoured target boats, general-purpose workboats, refueling dinghies, bomb-loading dinghies and experimental craft. This account from Castle Hill Press, the premier editors and fine press publishers of material by and about T. E. Lawrence, is by far the most detailed yet published. Item #007495