An Outside View: Illustrations to the 1926 Subscribers’ Edition of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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Emma Notfors

Abstract

The use of illustrations in mass-produced travel narratives had become commonplace, if not to say accepted practice, by the early Twentieth Century. Advancements in printing technologies allowed such books to be experienced by readers as sensory environments constituted by textual imagery and the successive display of vantage points and objects of the illustrations. Printing techniques and aspects of the physical book contribute to this visual ecology, resulting in a readerly construction of an aesthetic environment drawing on the collective output of author, printers and illustrators. It is as just such an aesthetic environment that this article will seek to understand the 1926 subscribers’ edition of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, T.E. Lawrence’s account of his role in the Arab Revolt during the First World War. In order to analyse how these decisions work together to form an aesthetic whole, this article will consider its context in terms of the development of photography as the dominant illustrative mode for travel literature before moving on to an analysis of Lawrence’s own use of this medium before engaging with elements such as layout, typography, decoration and, finally, a series of illustrations produced by Eric Kennington.

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Author Biography

Emma Notfors, University of Cambridge

PhD Candidate

Faculty of English