Thursday 14 September 2006 by Mal Booth. 1 comment
Exhibitions, Lawrence of Arabia and the Light Horse, Our exhibition, Lawrence of Arabia and the Light Horse

Seven pillars 1926 subscriber's edition Seven pillars 1926 subscriber's edition
One strong connection between Lawrence and the Light Horse is evident in our books collection. We have a very rare edition of TE Lawrence’s memoir of the Arab Revolt, Seven pillars of wisdom. Only a very limited, but lavish edition was produced while Lawrence was still alive (in 1926). An abridged version The Revolt in the Desert was produced in 1927, but the full trade edition was not published until after his death in 1935.

The 1926 subscriber's edition was purchased by the Memorial using funds donated to the Memorial by the Australian Light Horse Association (raised through the sale of the book Australia in Palestine) to acquire records relating to military operations in Palestine. At the time this edition was the only version of Lawrence's fuller account that was available. After much consultation, the Memorial's Board of Trustees offered to purchase the book soon after Lawrence's death in 1935 as it was seen as an important addition to the Australian Light Horse records held in the collection. It is one of only 170 full copies ever produced.

The production of the 1926 subscriber's edition reflects Lawrence’s love of exquisitely produced books. Each copy had its own individual binding. The Memorial’s copy has a gold-tooled, Oxford blue morocco leather binding with raised cords. The index page to the illustrations is hand-annotated by Lawrence 'Complete Copy' and initialled 'T.E.S.' (He had adopted the pseudonym 'T.E. Shaw' in February 1923 when he joined the Tank Corps as a private.) Each new chapter within the book begins with an illuminated first letter. The text was printed on high quality paper and laid out with much consideration given to balance on the page. Respected contemporary artists were commissioned, and their works, which include landscapes and portraits of the main Arab and British participants, give the book a modernist feel.

You can hear a recent Memorial podcast by subscribing to the Exhibitions feed on our Podcasts page.

Mal Booth



I would love to be able to have a look at this copy. You may also be interested to read the Chapter on T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom in the book by the U.K. rare book dealer Rick Gekoski. The book's called Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books. Gekoski devotes a Chapter to the Seven Pillars, and elaborates on the various sought after early editions. You can check out the book in Amazon. I've got a copy (of Gekoski) I can give you on loan if you wish.