Lawrence of Arabia's £32,000 diary appears at Lyon & Turnbull

Lyon & Turnbull's forthcoming Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photographs sale will include a limited edition of one of the most important accounts of the fighting experience of the First World War.

When Seven Pillars of Wisdom was penned by Thomas Edward Lawrence, or TE Lawrence, he had already lost two brothers in the conflict.

His resulting book on the campaign against Turks in the Middle East, written between 1919-1926, detailed acts of gross cruelty, revenge, disgusting hospitals and death.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom was anything but a jingoistic "boy's own" account of the conflict - and earned favourable comparisons to Dostoevsky, Melville, Yeats and Joyce.


TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom: one of the most important accounts
of the First World War. The cover depicts King Faisal I of Iraq

Due to his immense skills as a writer, TE Lawrence earned the name Lawrence of Arabia - also the title the 1962 film of his life starring Peter O'Toole, based largely on Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

This exceptional copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom from 1926 is one of just 170 subscribers', or "cromwell", editions, printed in red and black.

It is inscribed by the author on page 19: "Complete copy. IXII.26 TES."

The book's front bears a portrait of King Faisal I of Iraq to whom Lawrence became an advisor, by the artist Augustus John.

Also included within the books pages are six plates, four folding coloured maps, and 58 coloured illustrations in the text by John and other artists Eric Kennington and William Nicholson.


Hollywood star Peter O'Toole (left) portrayed the author (right) in the 1962
classic film, Lawrence of Arabia

Remarkably, the lot also includes a signed two-page letter written by Lawrence to FR Rodd, later Lord Rennell of Rodd. Dated November 3, 1925, it mentions the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

"Yes I'm here now... Lincolnshire is like a picture of dead earth in green & grey... The [Royal Air Force] camp is good. Also the fellows, also the life.

"...the reprint of my book would have been finished.... it will not be ready much before March. You don't really want one, you know. Thirty guineas is an absurd price," writes Lawrence.

This copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom will fetch considerably more than 30 guineas, and will carry an estimate of £28,000-32,000 when it auctions at Lyon & Turnbull on May 26.

 

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