commemorating a namesake
LAWRENCE, Thomas Edward. Seven Pillars of Wisdom a triumph. London, Jonathan Cape, 1935.
4to. Original brown buckram, spine lettered in gilt, upper board blocked in gilt with crossed sword design, and cenrally placed crest of Malvern College in the same tone of gold as the publisher's design, top edges brown, others uncut; pp. 672; frontispiece and 47 photogravure plates by John Swain & Son after Augustus John, Eric Kennington, Lawrence, and others, 4 folding maps printed by The Chiswick Press, Ltd in red and black and bound to throw clear; light marking and fading to binding, otherwise a very clean and fresh copy.
First trade edition, first printing. Seven Pillars of Wisdom was first printed in 1922 in an edition of eight copies intended for Lawrence's use, of which only six copies survive intact; the 'Subscribers' or 'Cranwell' edition then followed in 1926, published privately in an edition of circa 211 copies and, as Lawrence wrote to Sotheran's on 24 April 1925, 'this thing is being given only to my friends and their friends. No copies are for sale'; and finally, after Lawrence's death in May 1935, the text was published in a trade edition by Jonathan Cape in July 1935. Such was the book's popularity that the first impression was quickly exhausted and second, third and fourth impressions were printed in the following month (August 1935).
Provenance: School prize bookplate of Malvern College made out to I.R. Courtney, dated 1938 and signed by the headmaster H.C.A. Gaunt inside front cover. As school prize bindings were usually commissioned by the schools and made of leather, this particular case is unusual. The school must have bought enough copies of the first prinitng, which was sold out very quickly to award a copy three years later. The headmaster apparently did not want to follow the tradition of having a school prize binding made, but wanted to keep the iconic buckram. He might as well have commissioned one of the several industrial binders who where rushed in to get the 60,000 copies of the first edition ready for the keen public to apply their gilt-stamp to the front of the book. Malvern College remembered one of their popular pupils with the same name as the author of Seven Pillars, who was killed in 1918 at the Western Front, aged 19 (see http://www.stanwardine.com/cgi-bin/malvernww1.pl?id=245).