Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe was already a legend in the deserts of Arabia before he was joined in Cairo during the early months of the First World War by a group of extraordinary specialists in Middle Eastern affairs. One member of this group was T.E. Lawrence who went on to achieve worldwide fame. Colonel Newcombe's story, like those of other unsung figures in the Anglo-Arabian panoply, has been eclipsed by the legend of ´Lawrence of Arabia´, and has languished in the dusty recesses of regimental records, government files or in the elliptical words of Lawrence’s book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, S.F. Newcombe´s untold story is there to be told. IN THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT is a story of extraordinary exploits and courage, coupled with Newcombe's own legendary and inexhaustible supply of energy and of remarkable adventures under the very noses of the Ottoman authorities – full of danger, intrigue and perhaps more surprisingly, of romance during Newcombe's captivity in Turkey.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Newcombe and Lawrence at auction

Red Morocco leather with
Arabesque motif
Bonhams are holding an auction of Newcombe and Lawrence related items on 19 March in London. These include Newcombe's copy of the privately printed Seven Pillars of Wisdom plus field notes from the Arab Revolt describing raids against the Hejaz Railway.

Newcombe's copy is described as: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a triumph, SUBSCRIBERS' EDITION, ONE OF 170 COMPLETE COPIES, S.F. NEWCOMBE'S COPY, [Privately Printed] for the Author by Manning Pike and H. J. Hodgson, 1926

The lots include known letters from Lawrence to Newcombe and privately printed editions of The Mint, Crusader Castles, Men In Print, the Diary of T.E. Lawrence 1911, and Secret Dispatches from Arabia. A handsome collection from the family. Bonhams have referenced this blog for background information although there are one or two assumptions in their notes that do not match the evidence that I have found in my research. 

I am sure that the continued interest in Lawrence, the biography of Newcombe and the centenary of the war will help push along the bidding. 

Further details can be found at