"A Marvelous Possession"


Pencil sketch of T.E.L. by Augustus John, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a triumph, London, M. Pike and H.J. Hodgson, 1926.

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Title page of T.E. Lawrence's copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer.


Pages 152-153 of the Kelmscott Chaucer.

At the time of his untimely death, the Kelmscott Chaucer was perhaps the most valued and significant of the books left behind in T.E. Lawrence's distinguished library at Clouds Hill Cottage. 

Only months before, T.E.L. had remarked to J.G. Wilson, Managing Director of London booksellers J. & E. Bumpus Ltd., "It's a marvellous possession, and very good to read" (Bodleian MS.Eng.d.3328 255).

T.E.L.'s Kelmscott Chaucer remained within the Lawrence estate for more than a decade following his death, and was eventually acquired by Charles Luther Burton (1876-1961), a prominent Canadian businessman and former president of Simpsons department store. 

Burton gifted the Kelmscott Chaucer to Queen's University in 1958 "to record his friendship for Leonard W. Brockington, Rector of the University, and his abiding admiration and gratitude for the great contribution of Queen's, its teachers and scholars, to the life and well-being of Canada" (DLN 1).