LAWRENCE, THOMAS EDWARD Seven Pillars of Wisdom. A Triumph.
[London: Privately printed by Manning Pike and H. J. Hodgson], 1926. A proof copy (i.e. bound without the 66 plates, pictorial endpapers, and folding maps found in regular copies). Original plain black pigskin, especially bound for the author, edges black, plain white paper endpapers; housed in a handsome russet morocco folding-case by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, the title gilt-lettered on the upper cover and spine "Proof Copy / August 1926" gilt-lettered on spine. 9 1/4 x 7 1/8 inches (23.5 x 18 cm, the leaves trimmed by the binder from the regular size of 25.3 x 19 cm), the text leaves as in regular copies of the Subscriber's Edition, with woodcut text illustrations and decorative initials (some of these illustrations and initials are rather roughly printed), those at the beginning of each book printed in red. This copy has the rare woodcut by Blair Hughes-Stanton illustrating the dedicatory poem of the Subscriber's Edition pasted to the verso of the front free endpaper. Its blank margins have been trimmed, and it is printed on heavier stock than the india proof paper used in the four recorded copies bearing it. Extremities of the original pigskin binding lightly rubbed, some minor surface discoloration in a few spots (a waxy residue likely from old leather dressing), a few minor spots to the extreme lower margin of the first 200 pp.
This is the author's own proof copy of the subscriber's edition of Seven Pillars, which was later given by him to George Bernard Shaw's wife, Charlotte. It contains a number of annotations: these include an ink checkmark at the bottom of pages 119, 176, and 536; plus a large pencil mark on the inner margin of p. 525, and a pencilled word "extra" on the inner margin of p. 527. P.M. O'Brien in his bibliography (A040) describes this copy: "One copy (23.3 x 18.8 cm.) bound in black pigskin, all edges black, with no plates. Thought to be Lawrence's proof copy."
Nine proof copies were noted in a Lawrence manuscript "History of Seven Pillars" that was printed in facsimile in Texas Quarterly, 5:3 [Autumn 1962]. In this, Lawrence had a column of "Proofs: sets of spoiled," with a list of 9 recipients including himself as "A/c Shaw." The bookseller H. M. Mushlin (in a letter to Dr. Tovee of 19 August 1963) traced this copy's provenance: "This copy which is reputed to be T.E.L.'s copy, was bought by an America[n] dealer, resident for many years in England, named Dr. Jacob Schwartz. ... He purchased this copy with a great deal of [George Bernard] Shaw material and sold the volume to Stanley Bray, managing director of Sangorski and Sutcliffe ... When the University of Texas issued the enclosed magazine [i.e. the Texas Quarterly noted above], Schwartz wrote the enclosed to Stanley [see below] and also enclosed the piece torn from the magazine which is enclosed herewith."
Mushlin's letter to Tovee continues: "The internal evidence of the truth of this statement is that all of the 4 copies of the nine [proof copies] I have seen were untrimmed in rough paper wrappers. This copy was obviously bound for use and, as plain as the binding is, betrays Lawrence's guidance in choice of style and material. Pigskin was almost invariably his choice; and the cutting down to make it easier to refer to any particular page; and this was a practical utility binding of useful size and shape. G.B.S. had a set of sheets which he corrected very heavily and also punctuated. When these sheets had been returned, the chances are that T.E.L. sent him this copy to replace it as the only one at hand [this statement is apparently inaccurate] ... When Stanley Bray bought the 'Proof' [the present copy] he just put it away. He recalled it to mind when Jake Schwartz sent him the note and piece torn from the Texas Quarterly. A few months later, he wanted a considerable sum for some private purpose, he offered to sell it to me if I did not let anyone know he had sold it. I agreed, but ask you to keep this information private."
This claim was later confirmed by the Lawrence biographer Jeremy Wilson based on evidence in the correspondence. According to Wilson, Lawrence gave this proof copy to Charlotte Shaw, before he left for India at the end of 1926 but asked her to send it to him. When he returned in the spring of 1929, he gave it back to Charlotte who wanted a trimmer copy to read during a trip to Italy. Before giving this copy to Charlotte, Lawrence had to retrieve it from one of Sir Herbert Baker's partners (St. Ledger) to whom it had been loaned; Baker was Lawrence's friend and landlord in Westminster where he wrote the second and third drafts of the book. In a letter of 12 April 1929 Lawrence promised Charlotte: "Of course you shall have the cut-down S.P. and any other S.P. you want! You were one of the architects. I hope St. Ledger will bring it round to you in time." Lawrence apparently fulfilled his promise and this volume remained part of the Shaw collection purchased by Schwartz.
C Private Collection of Barbara and Ira Lipman
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