LAWRENCE (T.E.) The Odyssey of Homer, [translated by T.E. Lawrence], LIMITED TO 530 COPIES, PRESENTATION COPY FROM T.E. LAWRENCE TO HIS GODSON, STEWART LAWRENCE NEWCOMBE, Emery Walker, Wilfred Merton and Bruce Rogers, 1932
Lot 145
LAWRENCE (T.E.)
The Odyssey of Homer, [translated by T.E. Lawrence], LIMITED TO 530 COPIES, PRESENTATION COPY FROM T.E. LAWRENCE TO HIS GODSON, STEWART LAWRENCE NEWCOMBE, Emery Walker, Wilfred Merton and Bruce Rogers, 1932
Sold for £5,625 (US$ 9,327) inc. premium
Lot Details
T.E. LAWRENCE & COLONEL NEWCOMBE
Papers and Books of Colonel S.F. Newcombe, RE, DSO, sold on behalf of his descendants
There were six pall bearers at T.E. Lawrence's funeral in 1935, each of whom represented a different aspect of his life. Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe, RE, DSO (1878-1956) was one of these six, and was chosen to represent Lawrence's life in Arabia. An officer in the Royal Engineers and recipient of the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst, Newcombe had seen service in the Boer War, Egypt and the Sudan before taking charge of a British government survey of Southern Palestine in 1913. This was an area seen as being of particular strategic importance in the event of war with Turkey. Although military in its inception, Newcombe's survey was undertaken under the ostensibly civilian auspices of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The survey was joined in January 1914 by two archaeologists, C.L. Woolley and T.E. Lawrence. It fell to Newcombe to give Lawrence his first taste of military life: 'It was his first experience of collaborating with a professional soldier engaged in a military mission, and, moreover, one conducted inside enemy lines. By observing Newcombe at work, planning itineraries, interpreting maps, assessing terrain, as he, Lawrence, would do in the future, he was effectively undergoing a personal training course' (Malcolm Brown, T.E. Lawrence, 2003, p. 45). Later in 1914, after Turkey had joined the war, Newcombe and Lawrence were transferred to Cairo to join the new Military Intelligence Department, of which Newcombe remained Director until September 1915. After seeing action at Gallipoli and the Somme, Newcombe was appointed head of a small British military mission on the outbreak of the Arab Revolt and in December 1916 was sent to the Hejaz: ʻHe arrived just in time to join Lawrence for the final stages of the march on Wejh. During the next few months he became famous among the Arabs for the wild daring of his attacks on the Hejaz Railway' (Jeremy Wilson, T.E. Lawrence, National Portrait Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, 1988, no. 83). Although Newcombe was the senior officer, he was well aware of his protégé's outstanding ability, remarking in later life that ʻmy own view of Lawrence has always been that of an elder brother to a younger one who was far quicker than I'; while Lawrence himself acknowledged in Seven Pillars of Wisdom that Newcombe's deeds achieved legendary status among the Arabs – ʻ"Newcombe is like fire," they used to complain; "he burns friend and enemy" (1935 edition, p. 239). Newcombe was to be captured that November when leading an expedition behind enemy lines during the opening stages of the third Battle of Gaza. He managed to escape with the aid of a French girl, Elsie Chaki, whom he had met before the war in Constantinople and was to marry in 1919. (It is doubtless Elsie who lies behind a fleeting reference in a letter to Hornby of 29 June 1917: "I hope you've opened any official letters for me or any from Joyce etc, but don't bother to open any written in French or addressed to my Christian name: they wouldn't interest you a bit"; see his Army Field Service Correspondence Books below). Newcombe and Elsie had two children, a son to whom Lawrence stood godfather (see Lawrence's letter to Newcombe, below), and a daughter Diane, afterwards Baroness Elles. After the war, he worked on settling the boundaries between the British mandate of Palestine and the French mandate of Syria. During the Second World War he was to come out of retirement to carry out further intelligence work in Iraq. (For a further account and discussion of Newcombe's career, see Kerry Webber's website, In the Shadow of the Crescent).
LAWRENCE (T.E.)
The Odyssey of Homer, [translated by T.E. Lawrence], LIMITED TO 530 COPIES, PRESENTATION COPY FROM T.E. LAWRENCE TO HIS GODSON, STEWART LAWRENCE NEWCOMBE, inscribed on fly-leaf 'J.L.N. from T.E.S. "Not to be trusted"', 26 woodcut roundels printed in gold and black including title vignette and headpieces to each of the 24 books, untrimmed in original black morocco by W.H. Smith, gilt-lettered spine, t.e.g., 2 spine bands slightly rubbed, original slipcase, worn at edges [O'Brien A144], 4to, Emery Walker, Wilfred Merton and Bruce Rogers, 1932

Footnotes

  • FINE PRESENTATION COPY FROM T.E. LAWRENCE TO HIS GODSON, STEWART LAWRENCE NEWCOMBE, SON OF S.F. NEWCOMBE.

    Provenance: T.E. Lawrence, presentation inscription; Stewart Lawrence Newcombe (1920-2004, the only son of S.F. and Elsie Newcombe), so christened in recognition of his father's friendship with T.E. Lawrence, but always known as 'Jimmy' to his family, and 'James' to T.E. Lawrence - hence the inscription to "J.L.N."; and thence by descent to the present owner.
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