Glad you are reading the thing. Please don’t inhibit yourself from scribbling comments of an insulting sort in the margins, made especially wide for the purpose. Your praise makes my stomach warm: but your criticisms are really helpful: whether in the field of morality, belles-lettres, tactics, or just manners. Down with them while you can!

The ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ is a quotation from Proverbs: it is used as a title out of sentiment: for I wrote a youthful indiscretionary book, so called, in 1913 and burned it (as immature) in ‘14 when I enlisted. It recounted adventures in seven type-cities of the East (Cairo, Bagdad, Damascus etc) & arranged their characters into a descending cadence: a moral symphony. It was a queer book, upon whose difficulties I look back with a not ungrateful wryness: and in memory of it I named the new book, which will probably be the only one I ever write, & which sums up & exhausts me to the date of 1919.

T.E. Lawrence to Robin Buxton, 1923

Peter O’Toole inspects T.E. Lawrence’s effigy carved by artist Eric Kennington. 

Peter O’Toole inspects T.E. Lawrence’s effigy carved by artist Eric Kennington. 

(via ohyeahlawrenceofarabia)

Bedouin and Circassian chiefs on the Aerodrome at Amman, 1921. T.E. Lawrence is seen on the far right in suit and hat.

Source: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2004003694/PP/

Happy Halloween! I thought I would share with you my Lawrence of Arabia (film version) costume from ten years ago complete with hilariously terrible Photoshopping skills. I can’t believe I am posting this. If you have a Lawrence-related costume you would like posted on the blog today, send it over and I will post it! 

Happy Halloween! I thought I would share with you my Lawrence of Arabia (film version) costume from ten years ago complete with hilariously terrible Photoshopping skills. I can’t believe I am posting this. If you have a Lawrence-related costume you would like posted on the blog today, send it over and I will post it! 

T.E. Lawrence’s drawing of a Syrian castle (Citadel of Salah Ed-Din) which he produced on his walking tour of Lebanon and Syria in 1909. He was gathering information and evidence for his senior thesis at Oxford which was later published under the title Crusader Castles.

I am in London, rather distractedly & jerkily, with one suit of plain clothes, & two suits of uniform, & a motor-bike: I see hardly anyone, & don’t know what to say to them, when I do see them.

T.E. Lawrence to Colonel S.F. Newcombe, February 1929.

Just want to say what an awesome blog this is! I only recently have become a tad obsessed with Lawrence! I am currently in the process of reading and buying every book about him, by him, or even remotely related to him. His letters and quotes are incredible. I do actually have one question. The "cleanness and death" quote and sword motif that was on the 1935 edition.. I am assuming the publisher just had some artist draw up those swords. Or did they take it from an actual drawing by L?

Asked by Anonymous

Thanks so much for your kind words and good luck in your quest for books! My collection took me a number of years to amass (and it’s still growing) — but it’s a fun and worthwhile hobby. Also a great conversation piece when guests come over and stare at them in disbelief, when previously they had no idea T.E Lawrence was an actual historical figure and not just some guy played by Peter O’Toole in an old movie.

The quote from the cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom comes from a letter that T.E. wrote to artist Eric Kennington in 1922:

"The sword was odd. The Arab Movement was one: Feisal another (his name means a flashing sword): then there is the excluded notion, Garden of Eden touch: and the division meaning, like the sword in the bed of mixed sleeping, from the Morte d’Arthur. I don’t know which was in your mind, but they all came to me — and the sword also means clean-ness, and death.”

As far as I know, he did not create the drawing of the sabers on the cover of Seven Pillars. T.E. was actually a talented artist (in a variety of mediums), but I have also never seen one of his letters with doodles or drawings. He hired a number of artists to create illustrations and portraits for Seven Pillars and none of his own artwork appears in the book. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that Kennington created it as he was the book’s art editor in addition to being one of the primary contributing artists. 

I have not written to you for ever so long… I think really because there was nothing I had to say. It is partly being so busy here, that one’s thoughts are all on the jobs one is doing, and one grudges doing anything else, and has no other interests, and partly because I’m rather low because first one and now another of my brothers has been killed. Of course, I’ve been away a lot from them, & so it doesn’t come on one like a shock at all …but I rather dread Oxford and what it may be like if one comes back. Also they were both younger than I am, and it doesn’t seem right, somehow, that I should go on living peacefully in Cairo.
T.E. Lawrence to childhood friend E.T. Leeds, November 1915.
Photo shows T.E. on left with his four brothers: Frank, Arnold, Bob, and Will. Frank and Will are the two younger brothers (both stationed in France at their deaths) that T.E. is referencing in this excerpt. Frank was killed by shellfire on May 9, 1915 at the age of 22. Will (who T.E. was closer to) was in the Royal Flying Corps as an observer and was shot down on October 23, 1915 at the age of 26.

I have not written to you for ever so long… I think really because there was nothing I had to say. It is partly being so busy here, that one’s thoughts are all on the jobs one is doing, and one grudges doing anything else, and has no other interests, and partly because I’m rather low because first one and now another of my brothers has been killed. Of course, I’ve been away a lot from them, & so it doesn’t come on one like a shock at all …but I rather dread Oxford and what it may be like if one comes back. Also they were both younger than I am, and it doesn’t seem right, somehow, that I should go on living peacefully in Cairo.

T.E. Lawrence to childhood friend E.T. Leeds, November 1915.

Photo shows T.E. on left with his four brothers: Frank, Arnold, Bob, and Will. Frank and Will are the two younger brothers (both stationed in France at their deaths) that T.E. is referencing in this excerpt. Frank was killed by shellfire on May 9, 1915 at the age of 22. Will (who T.E. was closer to) was in the Royal Flying Corps as an observer and was shot down on October 23, 1915 at the age of 26.

Petra, O Leeds, is the most wonderful place in the world, not for the sake of its ruins, which are quite a secondary affair, but for the colour of its rocks, all red and black and gray with streaks of green and blue, in little wriggly lines…and for the shape of its cliffs and crags and pinnacles, and for the wonderful gorge it has, always running deep in spring-water, full of oleanders, and ivy and ferns, and only just wide enough for a camel at a time, and a couple of miles long. But I have read hosts of the most beautifully written accounts of it, and they give one no idea of it at all…so you will never know what Petra is like, unless you come out here… Only be assured that till you have seen it you have not had the glimmering of an idea how beautiful a place can be.

- T.E. Lawrence to childhood friend E.T. Leeds, February 1914.

Dear Mr. Bell
It’s rather late, but I think I ought to scribble you a line to tell you of today’s happenings. Dodd [Francis Dodd, portrait painter and official war artist] turned up smiling in the morning, and got to work like a steam engine: —black & white, with little faint lines of color running up and down in it. No 1 was finished by midday, and was splendid: Dahoum sitting down, with his most-interested-possible expression…he thought it great sport—said he never knew he was so good-looking — and I think he was about right. He had dropped his sulkiness for a patch. 
No 2 was almost a failure. Dodd gave it up half-finished.
No 3, standing, was glorious. My brother came to the door with some people, and Dahoum just at the critical moment looked round a little bit annoyed, to see what the dickens the matter was. Dodd got him on the instant, and promptly stopped work in the funk of hurting it. It is an absolute inspiration: no colour, ‘cause it was perfect as it was, unfinished. 
I raved over it, and Dodd therefore gave No. 1 to Dahoum, who in some unknown way had asked him for one of them. I left No. 3 — the best, most pleasing though not the most ‘pleasant’ — with Dodd, to be sent you. Really it’s worth looking at. 
Dahoum is taking his out to Carchemish to show his people. I think I shall steal it later, since he says with them it will only be a nine-days wonder, and then done with. It’s a most splendid thing: — though not so entirely the boy as No. 3. 
-T.E. Lawrence to C.F. Bell, keeper of Department of Fine Arts at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, August 1913. The drawing above is drawing No. 1 as referenced by Lawrence in the letter. Dahoum was his friend and assistant on the archaeological dig site in Carchemsich. It is thought that Lawrence dedicated his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Dahoum.
Source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=2020237

Dear Mr. Bell

It’s rather late, but I think I ought to scribble you a line to tell you of today’s happenings. Dodd [Francis Dodd, portrait painter and official war artist] turned up smiling in the morning, and got to work like a steam engine: —black & white, with little faint lines of color running up and down in it. No 1 was finished by midday, and was splendid: Dahoum sitting down, with his most-interested-possible expression…he thought it great sport—said he never knew he was so good-looking — and I think he was about right. He had dropped his sulkiness for a patch.

No 2 was almost a failure. Dodd gave it up half-finished.

No 3, standing, was glorious. My brother came to the door with some people, and Dahoum just at the critical moment looked round a little bit annoyed, to see what the dickens the matter was. Dodd got him on the instant, and promptly stopped work in the funk of hurting it. It is an absolute inspiration: no colour, ‘cause it was perfect as it was, unfinished.

I raved over it, and Dodd therefore gave No. 1 to Dahoum, who in some unknown way had asked him for one of them. I left No. 3 — the best, most pleasing though not the most ‘pleasant’ — with Dodd, to be sent you. Really it’s worth looking at.

Dahoum is taking his out to Carchemish to show his people. I think I shall steal it later, since he says with them it will only be a nine-days wonder, and then done with. It’s a most splendid thing: — though not so entirely the boy as No. 3.

-T.E. Lawrence to C.F. Bell, keeper of Department of Fine Arts at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, August 1913. The drawing above is drawing No. 1 as referenced by Lawrence in the letter. Dahoum was his friend and assistant on the archaeological dig site in Carchemsich. It is thought that Lawrence dedicated his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Dahoum.

Source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=2020237

You are obviously interested to hear what the Arabs think of England. Unfortunately they are too intelligent to be ridiculous about it. They describe it as a garden, empty of villages, with the people crowded into frequent towns. The town wonderfully peaceful and populous, the houses very high: the tube railways are to them a source of stumbling. They tell the villagers that Syria is a small poor country, very likely to be coveted by us tree-lovers… and that the Arabs are too few to count in world-politics. All of this is very proper. They also estimate the value and quality of the food they ate in England:…and feel relieved at their discovery of the true end of the collecting of antiquities.
T.E. Lawrence to his mother, August 1913. T.E. brought his Arab friends Dahoum (seen in the photograph above on the left) and Sheikh Hamoudi (seen above on far right) to Oxford. T.E. worked with these men on an archeological site in Carchemish. The photograph above is from their living quarters on the site. The Hittite-inspired carving in the background was carved by T.E. himself, largely with a screwdriver.

You are obviously interested to hear what the Arabs think of England. Unfortunately they are too intelligent to be ridiculous about it. They describe it as a garden, empty of villages, with the people crowded into frequent towns. The town wonderfully peaceful and populous, the houses very high: the tube railways are to them a source of stumbling. They tell the villagers that Syria is a small poor country, very likely to be coveted by us tree-lovers… and that the Arabs are too few to count in world-politics. All of this is very proper. They also estimate the value and quality of the food they ate in England:…and feel relieved at their discovery of the true end of the collecting of antiquities.

T.E. Lawrence to his mother, August 1913. T.E. brought his Arab friends Dahoum (seen in the photograph above on the left) and Sheikh Hamoudi (seen above on far right) to Oxford. T.E. worked with these men on an archeological site in Carchemish. The photograph above is from their living quarters on the site. The Hittite-inspired carving in the background was carved by T.E. himself, largely with a screwdriver.

Photos, quotes, and other tidbits based on the life and legend of T.E. Lawrence, more commonly known as Lawrence of Arabia. Please use the links at the top of the page (specifically the "Tags" link) in order to find more information about specific aspects of T.E. Lawrence's life.


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