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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1653

William Roberts drawings for Seven pillars of wisdom


Drawings by British illustrator William Roberts for T.E. Lawrence's Seven pillars of wisdom.


  • 1925-1926

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


2 linear feet (2 portfolio boxes)
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.

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.


Arranged alphabetically by title.

Physical Location


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.

Separated Materials

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

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.
  • Wilson, Jeremy. T.E. Lawrence. London: National Portrait Gallery, 1988.

Processing Information

Processed by: Michael W. Austin
Link to catalog
Roberts, William, 1895-1980. William Roberts drawings for Seven pillars of wisdom: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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