The Odyssey of Homer.London: Printed in England, 1932 Stock Code: 142978
NotesFirst and limited edition of Lawrence's translation, one of 530 copies, a compelling presentation copy, inscribed by Lawrence to his close friend and former colleague George Lloyd: "G.L. from T.E.S, 1933". Lawrence was signally reluctant to sign this book - his name appears nowhere in print in its pages - and association copies of any description are notably rare.
George Ambrose Lloyd, first Baron Lloyd (1879-1941), was a politician and colonial administrator seconded to Egypt, where he worked with Lawrence in a small group that formed the nucleus of "the Arab Bureau". "At 26, Lawrence was the youngest in a small group of able young experts on Turkish lands and peoples who made up the Military Intelligence Department. Newcombe, the director, was 34; George Lloyd, 33, and Aubrey Herbert, 32, both Members of Parliament; and Leonard Woolley, 32. Lloyd, a banker, was later Lord Lloyd, High Commissioner for Egypt" (Orlans, p. 25). Writing to Robert Graves in 1925, Lawrence noted: "Chance and the War made George Lloyd a friend of mine. I hope... that you will like him. Like the man in the Psalms 'He enlargeth his mouth over his enemies': and there is a snarl in it. Yet underneath he is diffident, kindly, considerate, generous, cultivated, careful. He reads: not always well and wisely, (few of us do) but is grateful for news of a good book. A very English Welshman" (Pateman, p. 89).
Lloyd joined Lawrence in October 1917 on the latter's visit to the Yarmuk Valley. Lloyd featured in chapters 69-73 of Seven Pillars, and a portrait of him was included in the complete Cranwell edition. Of their time together on the trip, Lawrence recalled Lloyd as "one of the best fellows and least obtrusive travellers alive... who could eat anything with anybody, anyhow and at any time... It was a sorry thing to see Lloyd go. He was understanding, helped wisely, and wished our cause well. Also he was the one fully-taught man with us in Arabia, and in these few days together our minds had ranged abroad discussing any book or thing in heaven or earth which crossed our fancy". Lloyd predicted the success of Seven Pillars, writing that Lawrence "has done wonderful good work and will some day be able to write a unique book. Generally the kind of man capable of these adventures lacks the pen and wit to record them adequately. Luckily Lawrence is specially gifted with both" (quoted in Charmley).
Over a decade later, in January 1929, Lawrence sailed from Bombay bound for Plymouth, via Egypt: "to his annoyance, the Egyptian police did not let him off the ship at Port Said to see his friend Lord Lloyd, High Commissioner for Egypt. However, he chatted with Lloyd's 16-year-old son, David, who came aboard bound for Eton. 'A bit grim for the kid, to be inspected by his father's friends... have you been stuffing the poor child with Lowell-Thomas tales?' Lawrence asked Lloyd" (Orlans, p. 86). During the voyage, Lawrence translated three books of the Odyssey, continuing the project he had begun the previous year, commissioned by book designer Bruce Rogers. It was issued in this beautiful limited edition in November 1932. Joseph Blumenthal, curator of the 1973 Pierpont Morgan exhibition "Art of the Printed Book: 1455-1955", stated of their remarkable collaboration that: "During the several years spent in selecting the 112 books finally shown, I handled every title reputed to be among the finest volumes ever made since Gutenberg. I believe that Bruce Rogers's Odyssey is indisputably among the most beautiful books ever produced with a classic austerity, Rogers created a masterpiece."
The year before Lawrence died, he wrote to Lloyd with a critique on the second volume of Lloyd's book, Egypt Since Cromer (1934): "You can write pages of moving, sonorous, and yet nervy prose. It is a very good book. Egypt has been fortunate in her historians... Nobody can finish it without rather liking you, for the truth is that you are a fundamentally likeable person, quite human, quite modest, and disarmingly unsure of yourself. You only pontificate and snarl and thump the table to convince your own mind. By nature G.L. is a little bit of a poet... If he were slightly more selfish, and had fewer loyalties, he would be a great individual success in politics. As it is, he will always be the despair of his friends and the chief target of his enemies". Lloyd attended Lawrence's funeral and named his country house Clouds Hill in tribute to Lawrence's cottage home. "A well-known figure in the 1930s, Lloyd faded rapidly from popular recollection, inevitably overshadowed by Churchill in histories of the decade. Fifty years on, however, Lloyd may appear to have been more prescient (or more honest) than many of his contemporariesin his Cassandra-like prognoses for British global power, if not in his prescriptions" (ODNB).
Quarto. Original black morocco by W.H. Smith, spine lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others untrimmed.
26 woodcut roundels printed in gold and black (with tissue guards).
Inscribed by Lawrence on the front free endpaper. Extremities slightly rubbed, small area of light fading to front cover, contents clean and unmarked, in lovely condition; a near-fine copy.
O'Brien A141. John Charmley, Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire, 1987; Harold Orlans, T. E. Lawrence: Biography of a Broken Hero, 2002; John Pateman, T. E. Lawrence in Lincolnshire, 2012.
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