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Sir Ian McKellen as T.E. Lawrence in the play Ross, 1970.

Sir Ian McKellen as T.E. Lawrence in the play Ross, 1970.

How like a book all the above sentences! Perhaps I am not writing to you, but for my some-day ‘Life and Letters’. If you think so, then burn the thing, and prevent (as Homer would say) the day of its returning.

T.E. Lawrence to Charlotte Shaw, January 1930

Disguise is not advisable. Except in special areas, let it be clearly known that you are British officer and a Christian. At the same time, if you can wear Arab kit when with the tribes, you will acquire their trust and intimacy to a degree impossible in uniform. It is, however, dangerous and difficult. They make no special allowances for your when you dress like them. Breaches of etiquette not charged against a foreigner are not condoned to you in Arab clothes. You will be like an actor in a foreign theatre, playing a part day and night for months, without rest, and for an anxious stake. Complete success, which is when the Arabs forget your strangeness and speak naturally before you, counting you as one of themselves, is perhaps only attainable in character: while half-success (all that most of us will strive for; the other costs too much) is easier to win in British things, and you yourself will last longer, physically and mentally, in the comfort that they mean. Also then the Turks will not hang you when you are caught.

-T.E. Lawrence in his “Twenty-seven Articles,” 1917

A digitized version of T.E. Lawrence’s pocket diary from WWI (January 1st to October 8th, 1918).  Lawrence simply recorded where he was on each date. 
Courtesy of the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_45983_b_fs001r

A digitized version of T.E. Lawrence’s pocket diary from WWI (January 1st to October 8th, 1918).  Lawrence simply recorded where he was on each date.

Courtesy of the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_45983_b_fs001r

The remnants of an RAF 200 Class Seaplane Tender, a boat that T.E. Lawrence helped develop and test in the early 1930’s. He also wrote a detailed operational manual for this model of boat which was republished in Boats of the R.A.F. printed in limited edition by Castle Hill Press. 
See more photos of the boat at the source: http://www.merseyshipping.co.uk/photofeatures/historicships/200seaplanetender/200seaplanetender.htm

The remnants of an RAF 200 Class Seaplane Tender, a boat that T.E. Lawrence helped develop and test in the early 1930’s. He also wrote a detailed operational manual for this model of boat which was republished in Boats of the R.A.F. printed in limited edition by Castle Hill Press.

See more photos of the boat at the source: http://www.merseyshipping.co.uk/photofeatures/historicships/200seaplanetender/200seaplanetender.htm

14 Barton Street in London, where T.E. Lawrence lived and worked on Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The  garret room belonged to his architect friend Herbert Baker.

"I’m perfectly well, & very comfortable in Barton Street which is quite beautiful. The quiet of so little a place in the middle of a great mess has to be experienced a thousand times before it is properly felt. I will be very sorry to leave, when I have to leave, but it’s altogether too pleasant to be allowed to go on too long."

- T.E. Lawrence to his mother, February 1922

A collection of photographs relating to T.E.Lawrence held by the British Library. Check out this amazing digitized gallery here: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_50584_b_fs001r

A collection of photographs relating to T.E.Lawrence held by the British Library. Check out this amazing digitized gallery here: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_50584_b_fs001r

T.E. Lawrence makes an appearance in the Autumn 2014 Quarterly Journal of Military History.

T.E. Lawrence makes an appearance in the Autumn 2014 Quarterly Journal of Military History.

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

T. E. LAWRENCE PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. ii + 59). Army Field Service Correspondence Book, containing notes and memoranda by Lawrence relating to events, etc., in the Arabian campaign; 30 Oct. 1916-16 Apr. 1917. The entries are written in pencil, partly in diary form, but do not follow a strict chronological sequence. A few loose papers inserted at the end (ff. 56-59) include a description by Lawrence, also in pencil, of events 9 May-9 July 1917, dated Cairo, 10 July 1917 (ff. 56-57).
Courtesy of the Britsh Library. Read the manuscript here (if you can decipher T.E.’s handwriting): http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_45914_fs001r

T. E. LAWRENCE PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. ii + 59). Army Field Service Correspondence Book, containing notes and memoranda by Lawrence relating to events, etc., in the Arabian campaign; 30 Oct. 1916-16 Apr. 1917. The entries are written in pencil, partly in diary form, but do not follow a strict chronological sequence. A few loose papers inserted at the end (ff. 56-59) include a description by Lawrence, also in pencil, of events 9 May-9 July 1917, dated Cairo, 10 July 1917 (ff. 56-57).

Courtesy of the Britsh Library. Read the manuscript here (if you can decipher T.E.’s handwriting): http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_45914_fs001r

Members of T.E. Lawrence’s hired bodyguard.

Members of T.E. Lawrence’s hired bodyguard.

T.E. Lawrence with Antonin Jaussen, a cleric and archaeologist on board the HMS Lama in March 1917.

T.E. Lawrence with Antonin Jaussen, a cleric and archaeologist on board the HMS Lama in March 1917.

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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