The Mint by TE Lawrence 1955
VG/VG. 4to. original blindstamped blue cloth gilt (cloth a little rubbed & sunned, some spots to outer leaves) in dustwrapper. A very good copy
The Mint is a book written by T. E. Lawrence[a] and published posthumously in 1955. It describes his time in the Royal Air Force, working, despite having held senior rank in the army (colonel), as an ordinary aircraftman, under an assumed name, 352087 Ross.
The book is notable, despite flaws noted by critics, for its sharp observation, for the insight it gives into Lawrence himself, and for the censorship issues around its publication.
The novelist E. M. Forster corresponded with Lawrence, in 1929 writing two detailed letters to him criticising The Mint, which he liked, and advising on how it might be improved.
The Mint concerns the period following the First World War when Lawrence decided to disappear from public view. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force under an assumed name, becoming 352087 Aircraftman Ross.[b] The book is a closely observed autobiographical account of his experiences in the RAF. The book covers his initial training at RAF Uxbridge in 1922 and a part of his service at RAF Cranwell, 1925–26.
The book is divided into three parts:
- Part I: 'The Raw Material', with 29 chapters (many are 2 or 3 pages);
- Part II: 'In the Mill', with 22 chapters;
- Part III: 'Service', with 18 chapters.
The book's title likens the RAF training to a coin factory, with the men as 'The Raw Material' (part I) and life in the training camp as being 'In the Mill' (part II) that stamps the coins out of the blank metal. Lawrence appears to have wanted to have his past life and fame obliterated, when he wrote to Edward Garnett:
"The Air Force is not a man-crushing humiliating slavery, all its days. There is sun & decent treatment, and a very real measure of happiness, to those who do not look forward or back."