Top: T.E. Lawrence and Lowell Thomas in London, 1920.
Bottom: Dust jacket for Lowell Thomas’s book about T.E. Lawrence.
The Lowell Thomas review is an excellent idea, & should be great fun. I resent him: but am disarmed by his good intentions. He is as vulgar as they make them: believes he is doing me a great turn by bringing my virtue into the public air:
He came out to Allenby as an American official correspondent, saw a scoop in our side-show, & came to Akaba (1918) for ten days. I saw him there, for the second time, but went up country to do some other work. He bored the others, so they packed him off by Ford car to Petra, & thence back to Egypt by sea. His spare credulity they packed with stories about me. He was shown copies of my official reports, & made long extracts or summaries of them. Of course he was never in the Arab firing line, nor did he ever see an operation or ride with me. I met him occasionally afterwards in London in 1920.
So much for his basis. The rest of his book is either invention or gossip. Some of the invention is deliberate, though much that he put into his American magazine articles (red-hot lying it was)has been left out of the American edition of his book. I’ve not seen the English edition. I thought the American version so disjointed & broken-backed as to be nearly unintelligible, as a history of me in Arabia or of the Arab Campaign above my head! However perhaps I am biased.
His details are commonly wrong. My family isn’t Irish from Galway (we were Elizabethan plantation from Leicestershire in Meath without a drop of Irish blood in us, ever) … and they hadn’t any ancestors called Lawrence (which is a very recent assumption, no better based than Shaw or Ross or any other of my names.) His school & college yarns are rubbish: ditto his story that I was medically unfit, or a child when the war began. I was employed in the Geographical Section of the General Staff in the War Office till December 1914.
I was never disguised as an Arab (though I once got off as a Circassian & nearly got on as a veiled woman!)
My height is 5’5 1/2”! Weight ten stone. Complexion scarlet. I have not been pursued by Italian Countesses.
-T.E. Lawrence debunking Lowell Thomas’s inaccuracies in a letter to friend and author E.M. Forster, June 1925