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MS Eng 1653

Roberts, William, 1895-1980. William Roberts drawings for Seven pillars of wisdom: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: pf
Call No.: MS Eng 1653
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Roberts, William, 1895-1980.
Title: William Roberts drawings for Seven pillars of wisdom,
Date(s): 1925-1926.
Quantity: 1 collection (2 linear feet (2 portfolio boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Drawings by British illustrator William Roberts for T.E. Lawrence's Seven pillars of wisdom.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*65M-177. Gift of Mr. Bayard L. Kilgour, Jr., 225 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202; received: 1966 April. Presented between 1958 and 1966.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Michael W. Austin

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

William Roberts Drawings for Seven Pillars of Wisdom (MS Eng 1653). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Separated Materials

These items were removed from the following collection: Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935. Papers (MS Eng 1252).

Biographical / Historical

William Roberts was originally trained as a commercial artist. During his apprenticeship, he attended classes at various art schools in London and traveled to France and Italy, where he was influenced by Post-impressionism and Cubism. For a time he was a member of the Omega Workshops, a design enterprise associated with the Bloomsbury group, and was involved in the British school of Futurism known as Vorticism. After serving in the First World War, his work dealt with the horrors of combat and social criticism in general. In his later years, he turned to the documentation of urban life and portraiture.
The drawings that make up this collection were commissioned by British soldier and archaeologist T.E. Lawrence during 1925 and 1926, when an abridged version of his Seven pillars of wisdom, entitled Revolt in the desert, proved financially successful, thus allowing work on a subscribers' edition of the original work to continue. None of the drawings in this collection were ultimately included; however, different illustrations by Roberts, chiefly portraits, were used.


For more on the genesis and publication history of Seven pillars of wisdom, see the following: Wilson, Jeremy. T.E. Lawrence. London: National Portrait Gallery, 1988.


Arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Contents

Collection includes original drawings in pen and ink, charcoal, chalk, and pencil. Many pieces have autograph manuscript annotations by Roberts. Some titles were given by Roberts; those supplied by the cataloger are given in square brackets.

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