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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 19:05 GMT
Lawrence of Arabia rarity for sale
Lawrence of Arabia
A drawing from the TE Lawrence book to be auctioned
A rare copy of the book that inspired David Lean's classic film Lawrence of Arabia is expected to make up to 15,000 when it is auctioned this week.

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom describes the experiences of TE Lawrence during the Arab Revolt in 1922. The copy for sale is one of 120 published by Lawrence at his own expense in 1922.

Seven Pillars is definitely one of the highlights of our sale

Peter Nelson, book specialist

The book, which is signed by its previous owner, the Scottish writer Lady Naomi Mitchison, is part of a collection being sold by auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull on 17 February.

"Seven Pillars is definitely one of the highlights of our sale," said Peter Nelson, a book specialist at Lyon and Turnbull.

Stunning escape

Lawrence was one of the most mysterious and glamorous figures of his time.

His exploits in the Hejaz, as described in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, involved him posing as an Arab and leading a column of Arab fighters, with much reckless courage.

Lawrence wrote of his capture by the Turks, of their failure to recognise him, and his stunning escape.

The War Office in London was gratified by the admiration he evoked amongst the public but was also embarrassed by his ambiguous role.

Peter O'Toole starred as Lawrence in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence died in a motorcycle crash in 1935.

Lawrence of Arabia
Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia in the 1962 classic film

Literary greats

Lyon and Turnbull will also be offering other rare books and literary memorabilia.

"We also have some other interesting lots from the library of Carradale House, including many first editions from Lady Mitchison's contemporaries at Oxford, such as EM Forster, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf and John Betjeman," said Mr Nelson.

"Many of the books have letters or notes from the authors - for instance, there is a letter from EM Forster describing where they should meet before the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

"While they may not be in tip top condition, many people might like to own a letter from one of Britain's literary greats for a couple of hundred pounds."

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