I’ve had a few requests to share my favorite books about T.E. Lawrence. I tried to limit myself to just those books I find myself reaching for often.
- My favorite biography is John E. Mack’s A Prince of Our Disorder. I’m partial towards it because it was the first Lawrence biography I read, but it is also well-researched, beautifully written, and I enjoyed the psychological analysis Mack provides. The author was a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard.
- Victoria Ocampo’s 338171, T.E. (Lawrence of Arabia) is another interesting read, a short biography by an Argentinian writer. T.E. Lawrence’s brother Arnold felt that it gave the best-balanced portrait of T.E.
- Harold Orlans’ T.E. Lawrence: Biography of a Broken Hero discusses obscure aspects of Lawrence’s life in great detail — things that are usually left out or only touched upon in most biographies.
- I think my favorite books are those of his letters. I’m a little more partial towards David Garnett’s Letters of T.E. Lawrence, but Malcolm Brown’s T.E. Lawrence: The Selected Letters is another essential. There’s a lot of overlap, but Malcolm Brown’s book contains letters that were purposefully omitted from Garnett’s.
- T.E. Lawrence by His Friends was edited by Lawrence’s youngest brother Arnold Lawrence. It is a collection of stories about T.E. from his dearest friends and colleagues.
- Finally, for beautiful photographs, I include Joseph Berton’s T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt and Malcolm Brown’s Lawrence of Arabia: the Life, the Legend.
T.E. Lawrence as a child.
First love between a person and a film can be as intoxicating as first love between two people. It can mean just as much crazy behavior, just as many sleepless nights. As a young adolescent, I became so desperately obsessed with a certain film that I saw it over and over, spent years studying the life of its hero, regarding him as a kind of role model and even dragged my family on a long, dusty pilgrimage to a place where he had lived. If one measure of a film’s greatness is its power to affect the lives of those who see it, then Lawrence of Arabia must be the best film I know.
Film critic Janet Maslin
A rare signed photograph of T.E. Lawrence. You can see his signature in the bottom right-hand corner. Circa October 1917.
A page from a promotional brochure for Lowell Thomas’ “With Allenby in Palestine,” a travelogue which propelled T.E. Lawrence to fame. Circa 1920.
A reader sent me this photo of her awesome Lawrence tattoo. It is the Greek phrase that T.E. Lawrence carved upon the architrave of Clouds Hill. It translates to “why worry” or “who cares.” I love it! Also pictured, Cricket, the Jack Russell terrier.
T.E. Lawrence’s bungalow, built in the garden behind their house at 2 Polstead Road in Oxford. The bungalow was built by his father after his parents recognized Lawrence’s need for independence. He would stay here throughout most of his years at Oxford, apart from his first term when he lived at Jesus College.
The bungalow still stands in the garden. This blog entry has photographs of the house at 2 Polstead Road and Lawrence’s bungalow in its current state: http://adventuring8117.blogspot.com/2010/07/jog-le-triumph-at-2-polstead-road.html
Who made or gave Lawrence this dagger
T.E. Lawrence had three different daggers during the war. The first one was given to him by Sherif Abdullah (brother of Faisal). His second was a present from Sherif Nasir, but it was too heavy so he ordered a third smaller dagger to be made from his specifications. This is the golden dagger that is currently located at All Souls College. After the war Lawrence sold it to his friend Lionel Curtis in order to pay for repairs at Clouds Hill.
What do you think Lawrence's religion was if he had one?
I’m not sure that T.E. Lawrence identified with organized religion. He certainly was knowledgeable in both the Bible and the Qur’an, and I think he always held a sort of admiration and respect for these holy texts. Personally, I’d say that he was ambiguously spiritual with ties to Christianity. He makes many allusions to biblical stories in Seven Pillars of Wisdom and the title itself is from Proverbs. But, as an adult, he certainly shied from active participation in any religion.
Do you know if there are any proper versions of Seven Pillars, the 1922 Oxford Text available? I have seen a couple inexpensive paperback editions online but am skeptical. Reviews say it is rife with errors, but from what i've read about that edition, it might very well have been full of errors. I would desperately love to get my hands on a copy!