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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to subscribers to Seven Pillars

[draft for a standard letter]

Clouds Hill
Moreton
 [19.XII.23 deleted]

Dear -

I asked Buxton to refer everyone to me that I might explain to each the details of my proposed private issue of The Seven Pillars.

For copyright reasons, and because the book is somewhat outspoken regarding myself; I am not publishing it, but am trying to raise enough private subscribers to cover the cost of production.

Estimates (necessarily provisional) for block-making and printing total about £3000. Consequently I've suggested 100 subscribers at 30 guineas. If the bills come to more I'd print 105 or 110 copies (supposing extra subscribers are to be found). If it costs less I'd dock its tail of the list. Circumstances make me unable to profit by its job.

Type, paper, and illustrations will be decent of their kinds (I hope!) and the complete work, as sent to subscribers, will not be reissued in my lifetime.

At the same time the people who were partners with me in the Arab Revolt will want copies, and I propose to GIVE to them (at my expense) copies of the text, with such illustrations as immediately concern them. No such copy will be complete: and I will give them only to people mentioned in my text, and only to such of those as I think fit. At present I don't know how many of them will want copies: more than twenty, less than fifty, I fancy. The fact that the free copies will be incomplete prevents their affecting the rarity value of the subscribers' edition.

I'm bound to say that I think the book exceedingly dear, an unjustifiable purchase either as investment for resale, or as a thing for reading: and I hope no one will decide to get it unless he is in the position to (mis) spend thirty guineas without a regret.

The printers estimate that they will take ten months block-making (fifty illustrations): and I don't propose to put the work in hand except as subscriptions to cover each section of it are assured. You will be lucky to get the finished work in 1924... and it may drag till the summer of '25. I promise no date.

The text will be copyrighted, and publication of it, or of extracts from it, in U.S.A. and the European copyright union will be impossible. No copies are going to libraries (if I can prevent it) nor will it be reviewed.

I much regret the necessity I am under of multiplying the book at all: but I want my illustrations reproduced, and cannot pay the cost of them: and the least evil, in the circumstances, seems to be for my friends to find me a hundred discreet subscribers! I'd be glad if all of them found the book too dull to read, and locked it, forgotten, in cupboards!

If after this explanation you still feel inclined to plunge. - then please pay in the £15.15.0 to Buxton as you suggest: and you will be subscriber no v.

Yours sincerely

T. E. Lawrence

Apologies for the length of letter: but I can't put all I want to say in a word.

Source: DG 444-6
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 23 February 2006


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