Rare Lawrence of Arabia book may sell for £20,000

A RARE copy of a book by Lawrence of Arabia, the heroic figure played by the late Peter O’Toole in the film of the same name, has surfaced at an Edinburgh auction house.

A rare signed copy of T.E.Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Picture: PA
A rare signed copy of T.E.Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Picture: PA

T E Lawrence’s book The SevenPillars of Wisdom, signed by Lawrence himself, is expected to fetch up to £20,000 when it goes under the hammer at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh next month.

Lawrence became famous for his liaison role during the Arab revolt against Ottoman-Turkish rule in the First World War.

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He was portrayed by O’Toole, who died last week aged 82, in the 1962 film about his life, now regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

The rare signed copy of Lawrences account. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is Lawrence’s own account of the Arab Revolt. The “Cranwell” edition, which has emerged at Lyon and Turnbull, is one of 32 so-called “incomplete copies”, from a total run of 211 copies. It is signed by the author to Major H M “Harry” Goldie.

The book, published privately in 1926, is accompanied by a note from Lawrence to Goldie, who is also said to have acted as Lawrence’s clandestine paymaster.

The note said: “You, having been one of us, get (if you want it) a gratis copy of the text of the subscribers’ edition. I stipulated this in my letter to the subscribers. It’s exactly the same text as they have, but has none of the illustrations… I take it, from your letter, that you’d like one of these private copies, & shall send it to you when it’s ready…”

The lot also includes a photograph of T E Lawrence with his friend Dr David Hogarth, and Lt-Colonel Alan Dawnay, who were all part of the Arab Bureau in the Cairo Intelligence Department, established to harmonise British political activity in the Near East.

Simon Vickers, at Lyon & Turnbull, said yesterday: “The book was brought in by the vendor, which is exciting enough as signed
copies are very rare, but this one was one of only 211 copies especially printed for those involved with Lawrence in the Middle East at the time.”

In 1916 or 1917, Goldie met Lawrence, himself a member of the Arab Bureau.