Monday 26 February 2018

A T. E. Lawrence Limited Edition: The Kaer of Ibu Wardani (70 copies only!) NOW SOLD OUT!


By T. E. Lawrence

A key early piece of writing by Lawrence of Arabia, which originally appeared in Jesus College Magazine in 1913, and is now published in its own edition for the first time

With an original, hand-printed linocut frontispiece

A strictly limited, never-to-be-reprinted edition of 70 hand-numbered copies for sale


A bit of background: 

As the summer of 1912 began, T. E. Lawrence was a 23 year-old off-duty archaeologist. With his dig at Carchemish closed for the season, Lawrence went travelling with Dahoum, the young Arab who had become his constant companion. The pair decided to take in a site of archaeological interest deep in the Syrian desert: the remains of a Byzantine palace known as the Qasr of Ibn Wardan.

The visit made enough of an impression on Lawrence that he was inspired to ‘formally’ write up the experience as an essay, which he sent back to England for inclusion in a new publication produced by his old Oxford college. Thanks to (presumably) a slight mangling of Lawrence’s title by the typesetter, the piece duly appeared as ‘The Kaer of Ibu Wardani’ in Jesus College Magazine Vol. 1, No. 2, dated January 1913.

This key early piece of descriptive writing by the future Lawrence of Arabia has been largely forgotten, and is not easy to track down. It is now presented in its own, limited edition for the first time.

The edition features an original, hand-printed linocut by Sharon Newell, inspired by the design of a wall carving at the Qasr, tipped in as a frontispiece.

A5 format, printed on uncoated 160gsm paper, 16pp plus a cover (designed to echo the 1935 Trade Edition of Seven Pillars) printed on heavy Rives Shetland paper.

The interior is set in Lawrence's preferred font Caslon, with a recreation of the striking decorated capitals designed by Edward Wadsworth for the 1926 Subscriber's Edition of Seven Pillars.

Featuring, as well as the full text of 'The Kaer of Ibu Wardani', an extract from Seven Pillars where Lawrence recalls his visit to the Qasr, plus a 'Note on Fonts' and annotations by Adam Newell, with supporting illustrations.


I'm extremely pleased with how this small edition has turned out. I have many people to thank, not least Dr. Robin Darwall-Smith, the Archivist at Jesus College Oxford, who helped me gain access to the original text. I should also thank Robert Athol, the Archivist at Jesus College *Cambridge*, whom (schoolboy error alert!) I mistakenly contacted in the first instance. He soon put me in touch with the *right* Jesus College.

Thanks are also due to Sharon Newell for labouring over 70 exquisite linocuts to act as the frontispieces, Paul Lloyd for creating a digital version of Wadsworth's bloomers, and Martin Stiff of the design agency Amazing 15 for his typically superb work.

Credits are also due to the Creative Commons photographers Fulvious, Heretiq, Jim Gordon, 'Upyernoz' and Reibai, whose work I have used for illustrations. 

Readers of the edition will see that several key biographies of Lawrence are referenced in my annotations, but in addition I would also like to mention Not a Suitable Hobby for an Airman: T. E. Lawrence as Publisher by V. M. Thompson as a useful source of information about Wadsworth's work.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Christopher Nolan's Desert Island Withnail...

Christopher Nolan directing nearly-Withnail Ken Branagh in Dunkirk.

In what I'm pretty certain is a first, a selection from the soundtrack to Withnail and I has been chosen as a Desert Island Disc. Everybody's favourite future Bond movie director Christopher Nolan includes 'Marwood Walks' as one of his eight pieces of music to be cast away with (other film-related choices include a cue by his colleague Hans Zimmer, and of course a bit of 007).

Nolan says of his choice: "It's just a lovely, lovely piece of score. We first saw [Withnail] at UCL [University College London]. These screenings we would do at the Bloomsbury Theatre, and Emma [Thomas, now his wife and producer] and I would put together all-night film shows once a year, and one year we showed Withnail and I from a 35mm print. It's just a film that I connected with, first on the level that's it's an extremely funny film, but over the years it's sort of taken on a much more emotional, much more melancholic feeling for me. I think a lot of that is to do with this beautiful music."

Hear, hear. 'Marwood Walks' is (I think) the cue heard in the film when Paul McGann emerges from Crow Crag into the daylight the morning after they arrive. Wrapping his overcoat around him for warmth, he looks at the view (which the movie cheats: he 'sees' Haweswater, which is actually miles away from Sleddale Hall).

The incidental music for Withnail, by David Dundas and Rick Wentworth, is, of course, utterly brilliant. It's easy to downplay its part in the overall effect of the film, but for me, I tend to notice it more and more every time I re-watch the film.

But what of the gentlemen who made the music? Both sound fascinating fellows. Rick Wentworth is a BAFTA-nominated composer who has worked with all kinds of interesting people, including Paul McCartney, Grace Jones and Roger Waters. Dundas meanwhile is a mate of Bruce Robinson's, in fact it was his house in Camden in which Robinson and various others lived at the fag end of the 1960s. He is now *Lord* Dundas, if you please, and must be the only current member of the upper house to have had a pop career in the 1970s. Here's a clip of his most famous tune, 'Jeans On'...

The current link to Nolan's Desert programme is HERE. The BBC usually archive DID to be available 'forever', so this famous fan's little tribute to Withnail should be there for future generations to enjoy... even when mankind has to go live on the other side of a wormhole.