Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lawrence of Arabia: Auction of Rare Books by T.E. Lawrence

I may have mentioned in this blog before that my favorite film of all time is Lawrence of Arabia and because of loving the film I've read books by and about the real man, T.E. Lawrence.

If I had a spare $100,000 I would head to London on March 27 to bid on a collection of books by T.E. Lawrence, including his rare work The Mint.

 Bonhams Fine Books, Maps and Manuscripts will auction The Mint and also a rare edition of Lawrence's book Seven Pillars of Wisdom in March.  Each publication will be sold separately.

The real T.E. Lawrence

I read Seven Pillars of Wisdom a long time ago. The one for sale is a signed privately printed first edition and a personal gift to Lawrence's solicitor (lawyer).  If you've seen the 1962 film with Peter O'Toole then you know the subject of this book, Lawrence's account of his role in the Arab Revolt (1916-1918) during World War I. 

Not the edition on sale by Bonhams

I had not heard of The Mint before reading about this auction and I am intrigued by the description of the book. Having read a couple of biographies of T.E. Lawrence I am familiar with this strange period in his life.  For some reason after having achieved world wide fame as Lawrence of Arabia and achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, he enlisted in the RAF under an assumed name in the early 20's. The Mint is Lawrence's account of his life in the RAF (he was discovered but later allowed to enlist under his own name). Apparently the RAF requested that he not publish the book until 1950, but Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident in 1935. 

Lawrence only completed a draft of this work and it was edited by his brother after his death. The Mint was published  in 1936 first in the US at a price of $500,000 (and that was real money in those days),  and later in a limited edition of 50 in the UK. The copy on sale next month was owned by the brother, Professor Arnold Lawrence, who gave it to the lawyer, Edward Eliot, on loan. The edition has the signature of Lawrence's brother and lawyer. 

To read more about the sale you can go to Bonhams website at the link below:

In the meantime, while I wait to win the lottery before March 27, I will watch David Lean's great film again with Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, and literally a cast of thousands.


  1. Agreed that Lawrence of Arabia is a great film - Peter O'Toole is such a wonderful actor. He and Kathryn Hepburn's magnificent 'The Lion in Winter' replayed a few days ago. Enjoyed it tremendously - it never grows stale, nor does LoA.

    It was such a treat, Fabo, to access your interesting blog without suffering screen freeze:) New browser has made all the difference.

    Take care,

  2. Hi Ann,

    I'm glad you're not getting screen freeze anymore! I'm sorry that was happening. I love The Lion in Winter too, O'Toole was great in that also I agree.


  3. I loved Peter O'Toole in those movies. I am curious about that book The Mint you mention. I wonder what was so secret that the RAF didn't want it published for so long?
    I can't help wondering what other interesting things this man would have done if he hadn't died so young.

    1. He was definitely and eccentric and such an interesting man, yes, what could he have done had he lived long.
      I know, I wander about the book too what were they afraid he would reveal in this book about being an enlisted man in the RAF.
      Thanks for your great comments!


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