Where can I obtain
photographs of Lawrence?
Numerous institutions and picture agencies hold photographs of Lawrence.
If you are seeking a specific photograph, a good starting-point is to
find a recent book where it is published, and then look up the picture sources or acknowledgements for reproduction rights. Two
illustrated books are particularly useful for this kind of search:
Jeremy Wilson, T. E. Lawrence [catalogue
of the Lawrence of Arabia centenary exhibition held at the National
Portrait Gallery] (London, National Portrait Gallery, 1988)
Stephen E. Tabachnick and Christopher Matheson,
Images of Lawrence (London, Jonathan Cape, 1988)
In addition, the collection of
thumbnails in the picture section of this site gives the source for many of the
photographs listed. We plan to add to this information in the
Three institutions in Britain hold significant
collections of photographs relating to Lawrence:
The Bodleian Library, Oxford (T. E. Lawrence
The Photographic Library of the Imperial War
Museum, London (photographs of the Arab Revolt)
The National Portrait Gallery, London (a small collection including the Howard Coster
What is the connection between T. E. Lawrence and 1962?
The Royal World Premiere of David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia took place on 10 December 1962 at the Odeon Theatre, Leicester
My family name is Lawrence, and it is rumoured that T. E. Lawrence was a
relative. Is this likely to be true?
It is unlikely to be true.
T. E. Lawrence was not legally entitled to the name Lawrence,
since he was the illegitimate son of Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner. The name
"Lawrence" had been assumed by his parents when they eloped
Prior to that, his mother Sarah Junner had used the name
"Miss Lawrence", but she was not legally entitled to it either, since
she also was illegitimate.
However, Sarah Junner's natural father (T. E. Lawrence's
grandfather) is thought to have been John Lawrence,
born at Chepstow in 1843. For more about this see Family
The name Lawrence, which has
Jewish origins, is fairly common.
What were Lawrence's religious beliefs?
He was brought up in an evangelical branch of the Church of England. His
family held daily prayers, and as a child he attended services at St.
Aldate's church in Oxford, as well as Bible classes given by Canon
Christopher, the vicar of St. Aldate's and a noted evangelical
an adult, however, Lawrence ceased to observe any formal religion and went out
of his way to avoid religious ceremonies. In The
Mint he wrote that, for him, "only the
first four words" of the Anglican Creed remained ("I
believe in God"). His thinking about the origins of Semitic
religions is set out in Chapter III of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
(1926 subscribers' text).
Are there any surviving close
relatives of Lawrence?
No. Thomas Chapman, Lawrence's father, had seven
children who survived to adulthood: four
legitimate daughters and five illegitimate sons. Yet of these only A.W. Lawrence, the youngest, married
(two of the other sons were killed in action during the First World
A. W. Lawrence and his wife had one daughter, who
predeceased her parents. She and her husband had children but, for
their generation, T.
E. Lawrence being a grandparent's brother can hardly be considered a close relative.
Was Lawrence gay?
Lawrence did not marry or live at any time with a
partner, of either sex. As far as we know he never voluntarily had an
intimate relationship with anyone, man or woman.
No-one who knew him well suggested that he was
homosexual. Very few of his friends were homosexual. When the
accusation was made publicly by Richard Aldington, twenty years after
Lawrence's death, not one of his friends or contemporaries in the
ranks - the people who knew him well - supported it. As far as I
know only two people made this suggestion (in private
correspondence) during his lifetime. Neither of them was more than a
slight acquaintance, and both had strong personal reasons to wish to
discredit him. They made no secret of their general enmity.
There is independent evidence that in Oxford as a
young man Lawrence was attracted to at least one girl, Janet Laurie.
In 1910, soon after graduating from university, he left England to
join an archaeological excavation in a remote part of Syria where
there were no European women. As he spent most of his time there until
the outbreak of the 1914-18 war, he had almost no opportunity to mix
with the kind of girl that an Englishman of his generation might have
thought suitable. Nevertheless, he seems to have had very cordial
relationships with English and American women he met in the Middle
East and with his Arabic teacher Fareedeh el Akle.
At the beginning of World War One Lawrence was
almost certainly sexually inexperienced, as were the great majority of
young officers in the British army. The sexual morality of the period
was very different from morality today.
Despite many attempts by controversial biographers
to claim otherwise, there are no sound reasons to disbelieve his
statements in Seven Pillars of Wisdom and elsewhere that during
the war, at Deraa in November 1917, he was subjected to flogging and
violent male rape. Thereafter he seems to have had a profound horror
of sexuality and physical contact with other human beings.
The experience at Deraa left
deep psychological scars which are evident throughout his later
writings. In the mid-1920s he developed a flagellation disorder. We
have little reliable information about this, but it appears that on about eleven occasions during the
subsequent decade he arranged secretly to have himself beaten in a
ritual related to the events at Deraa. He also appears also to have
suffered during these years from less extreme forms of masochistic
A number of controversial biographers, notably
Richard Aldington, Desmond Stewart (himself openly homosexual),
Lawrence James, and Michael Asher, have written biographies of
Lawrence in which they claimed that he was gay. Neither of Lawrence's
major scholarly biographers, myself and John E. Mack (a Harvard
professor of psychiatry) reached that conclusion. Elsewhere on this site there is detailed analysis of the
case made by Michael Asher (itself largely derived from the books by
James and Stewart). There is also discussion in the archive of the T.E. Lawrence Studies List.
Whatever Lawrence's personal difficulties in this
area, he was not homophobic. His personal philosophy, throughout his
adult life, was that people should be allowed to lead their own lives.
In this and many other matters he was not judgmental. For some
biographers, this tolerance
(exactly the attitude we encourage today) implied personal
orientation. Thus, the fact that he did not condemn
homosexual practices by others in Seven Pillars of Wisdom
has been cited as evidence that he was homosexual
Conclusion: I know of no evidence that would confirm his sexual
orientation, whether it was straight, gay or (as he himself implied)
asexual. Without conclusive evidence the question cannot be
What were the three books that
Lawrence carried and read during the Arab Revolt?
In a letter to D. G. Hogarth of 7 April 1927,
Lawrence wrote: "My books in Arabia were the Morte:
Aristophanes (I read all the Peace, very gratefully, and
without much technical trouble) and The Oxford Book of English
Verse." (DG p. 512), The books were:
Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur. This
was probably not the copy that was in the Clouds Hill library when Lawrence
Aristophanes, Comoediae accedunt perditarum
fabularum fragmenta ex rec. G. Dindorfii, Vol. I (Oxford, Typ.
Academ, 1835). The Clouds Hill copy was inscribed: 'T.E.L. Oxford
1914. This copy went with me through the Arab war. T.E.L.'
The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900,
ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1915). The Clouds
Hill copy was inscribed "Bought in Cairo 1916. Carried through
Hejaz and Syria 1917-1918. T. E. Lawrence, Damascus, 1.10 .'
What words did
Lawrence carve above the entrance door at Clouds Hill?
The words, carved in Greek characters,
are normally transcribed Ou Phrontis. They come from Herodotus,
VI, 129. In a letter to Celandine Kennington of 18.10.1932
Lawrence explained: "In Athens was a gentleman called Hippoclides
who became engaged to a rich merchant's daughter: and they arranged him
a slap-up and splendid marriage. The feast preceding it was too much for
his poor head, though. He stood on his head on the table and did a
leg-dance, which was objectionable in Greek dress. 'Hippocleides,
Hippocleides' protested the shocked merchant 'You dance your marriage
off.' 'Wyworri?' said Hippocleides: and Herodotus tells the tale so
beautifully that I put the jape ['Why worry'] on the architrave. It
means that nothing in Clouds Hill is to be a care upon its
inhabitant." [DG p. 746]
How many copies
were there of the 1926 subscribers' edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom?
According to Lawrence's records:
128 complete copies were sold to subscribers
36 complete copies were given away
6 incomplete copies, which lacked about half the
plates, were given away
There were also 9 proof copies.
is the origin of the title Seven Pillars of Wisdom?
The title is a deliberate echo of a biblical text: Proverbs
Wisdom hath builded her house,
She hath hewn out her seven pillars'
Lawrence originally intended Seven Pillars of
Wisdom to be the title of a book that he began writing before the
First World War, about seven great cities of the Middle East. The
draft seems to have been incomplete when war broke out, and he later
said that he had destroyed it (it has never been found). After the
war, he transferred the title to his book about the Arab
What make of motor-cycle was Lawrence riding when he had his fatal accident,
and what was its registration number?
A Brough Superior, Model SS100. Lawrence purchased
this machine in March 1932. It was not (as has often been alleged) a gift from
The registration number was GW 2275
Where is T. E. Lawrence buried?
Lawrence's funeral service took place on 21 May
1935 at St. Nicholas' Church, Moreton, Dorset. He was buried a
short distance away in the new cemetery.