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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to C. M. Doughty


All Souls Oxford.

30. 7. 20.

Dear Mr. Doughty,

I have been very much at fault lately: but I wanted to get things settled a little before I wrote to you. I have no doubt that Duckworth will have written to you about the Medici edition of Arabia Deserta. I hope you will accept it, for it is very difficult to get any book out now-a-days. Your share is miserable: and the price is very high: but the original now stands at over £30, and this is at least an improvement on that. Also I feel that the great thing is to get it set up. This is only a first printing of 500 copies, but it has been designed to cover its expenses, and the book will always be in hand to reprint when the 500 are sold. I think that these later reprints can be sold cheaper, and so the book may at last reach a full public.

There are just two difficulties. To catch the collector of editions, this should be a little different from the old. Nothing can be changed in it as it stands, so I suggested that you might be persuaded to write an additional preface. My hopes were that perhaps you would just put down on paper, easily, the 'why' you went to Arabia. I don't mean Medain Salih, but to write something: and it should be exceedingly interesting if you would say how you wrote it - the relation between the notes you took and the finished book: and how you were able to take such notes without being stopped. These are only suggestions - but I hope you will do something, because it would help to clear the 500 off, and till then Mr. Lee Warner is risking a good deal of money.

The other difficulty is worse. They have asked me to write a note introducing it. I feel this as absurd as it would be to introduce Shakespeare. However they urged that I had an advertisement value, especially in America which has hitherto hardly known you, and which ought to buy nearly half the 500 - and so I said that I would do it, if you would allow it to be done. I'm afraid you will feel it rather an outrage on the book; and I shall be delighted if you do. The only risk is of Mr. Lee Warner then trying to avoid the contract: and I'd do almost anything to get Arabia Deserta on sale again.

I have left no room to thank you for the ostrich egg: it is a very splendid egg, to have such a pedigree, and I will see it properly bestowed.

About the portrait: Rothenstein has been house-moving, and then a little ill. I hope to send Mrs. Doughty a collection of his drawings soon to reassure her on his sobriety (he is almost too sober I am afraid): John is greater: Do you think it could be put into the new edition?

Yours sincerely

T E Lawrence

Source: DG 309-10
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 24 January 2006

 



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