Lot 44: LAWRENCE, T. E. Autograph letter signed ("T. E. S.") to [Apsley Cherry-Gerrard], [Karachi], 4

Christie's

December 7, 1990, 12:00 AM EST
New York, NY, US
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Description: April 1927, with postscript dated 14 April 1927, " 2 pages, small 4to, with original postmarked envelope addressed by Lawrence, " in fine condition. "FOR NOBODY EVER FELT SO PLAIN AND ORDINARY, REALLY, AS MYSELF" Written during Lawrence's service in the RAF at Karachi. Cherry-Gerrard accompanied Scott on his last expedition to the South Pole and wrote a celebrated account of the tragic adventure in his " The Worst Journey in the World " (first published in 1922). Lawrence begins his letter without a greeting; "G.B.S. [George Bernard Shaw] is his " Spectator " review of my book links us, as single-chances-in-a-million [referring to Shaw's review of " Revolt in the Desert " in the " Spectator " of 12 March 1927 where Shaw commented on the odds against a "man of action" writing a "great book"]. If our sexes had been different (one of us, I mean) we could have pulled off a eugenist's dream. As it is there's only a mutual admiration available. I think your book is one of the great travel books...and travel books, of the personal sort, are the best of literature: and you have paid a huge sum for my book " [Seven Pillars of Wisdom " --see lot 5 for Cherry-Gerrard's copy, inscribed to him by Lawrence], which I'll take (pro tem.: or till you disavow the attitude) as a complimenting gesture from you. So there we are. Honours even, as Montagu said. All the same your way of living seems to me enviable, sometimes, beyond my chosen way... "Lawrence tells of an upcoming inspection and continues: "However I expect there are days in your life when your house is too big, & your cook too good, and your day too long. Our beds are narrow & close together, our cooks awful: our life harried by orders. See the contrast! Yet it will be all the same for us in a hundred years... "...I think it is the rarest house I've ever been in [Lamer Park, Cherry- Gerrard's house in Herts]: rareness being in its very air. Perhaps that feeling of mine supports G.B.S. judgment of your being the one-in-a-million. Do you think that if I had a permanent dwelling, that too would become an extraordinary place? To set one up would be a way of checking his judgment, which I suppose he really means: --to my amazement, for nobody ever felt so plain and ordinary, really, as myself. However there we are, G.B.S. is a colossus, & if he is willing to confer honour on us, it's for us to feel happy. All the same, how the deuce did I do it? Do tell me that his praise scares you, also... They say my book " [Seven Pillars of Wisdom] " is round the £250 mark. Isn't it time you unloaded or bulled or beared or stagged or sheeped or goated or cowed your copy? No book is worth that. I'll always lend you mine, if you ever want to re-read... 14.IV.27. This letter has been waiting ten days for a stamp." Not in " Letters, " ed. D. Garnett. Cherry-Gerrard's friendship with Lawrence is recounted by him in " T. E. Lawrence by His Friends, " pp. 189-192.
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