TE Lawrence unfinished book 'The Mint' - once valued at $500,000! - is for sale

TE Lawrence, popularly known as 'Lawrence of Arabia', is set to make another appearance at auction when a valuable collection of his rare books go up for sale on March 27.

Overall, the TE Lawrence collection for sale at the Fine Books, Maps and Manuscripts auction is expected to net £55,000. Each volume will be sold as a separate auction lot. Among them is a rare first edition of his controversial work, The Mint.

The Mint recounts Lawrence's life in the RAF during the early 1920s. The author's work on the book was curtailed by his death in a motorcycle accident in 1935.

Editing of the book fell to Lawrence's brother, the classical archaeologist Professor Arnold Lawrence, who was a respected figure in his own right.

The copy for sale in London was Arnold's own copy. He later permanently loaned it to Edward Eliot, TE Lawrence's solicitor. The rare book bears the signature of both men and is estimated to sell for £10,000-15,000.

The author TE Lawrence (right) and as he was played onscreen by Peter O'Toole

And the book's renown didn't end with it being an 'unfinished TE Lawrence work'. To protect copyright, The Mint was published in America with a prohibitive price of $500,000! The same tactic was used for the UK in 1936, limited to 50 editions.

His preparations for the book began soon after he enlisted on August 1922 under the assumed name of John Hume Ross. However, "Ross's" deception was discovered, and he was dismissed the following year. Lawrence was, however, permitted to rejoin the RAF under his own name in 1925.

The first draft of The Mint was sent to literary editor Edward Garnett. Garnett passed the book onto Air Marshall Trenchard, aka "The Father of the RAF". Having read it, Trenchard requested that TE Lawrence's book not be published in 1950, to which the author agreed.

Lawrence later resumed work on his tome in March 1935, after leaving the RAF. But it was in May of that year that the writer died in a motorbike accident, before his work could be completed.

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