Research and discussion
Page updated May 2012
Outline chronology: 1919
On 9 January, Lawrence arrives in Paris for the Peace Conference. The British position over the Middle East is hopelessly compromised by conflicting wartime promises, and by the desire of the Imperial Government of India to colonise Mesopotamia. Lawrence remains until mid-May, arguing for Arab freedom in many private meetings with statesmen and journalists. As the pace slows he begins to write Seven Pillars of Wisdom, completing Books 27 and Book 10.
On 6 February Lawrence accompanies Feisal to a meeting of the Council of Ten for a formal statement of the Arab position.
On 20 March President Wilson suggests that an inter-Allied commission should visit the Middle East, to determine the wishes of the inhabitants. The plan is opposed vehemently by the French and the Zionist lobby. Later in the month Lawrence is asked to arrange a private meeting between Feisal and Clemenceau.
On 7 April, Lawrence's father dies in Oxford, and he has to make two brief trips home during the following week. In mid-April Feisal and Clemenceau meet but, as anticipated, they do not reach a satisfactory agreement. A few days later Feisal leaves for Damascus to prepare for the arrival of the inter-Allied Commission.
In mid-May Lawrence joins a squadron of Handley-Page bombers on their way to Egypt. On 17 May his plane crashes at Rome aerodrome: there are two deaths, but Lawrence escapes with a broken collarbone. On 29 May he leaves Rome with his arm in plaster.
Lawrence flies south in easy stages via Taranto, Athens, and Crete. He arrives in Cairo on 28 June and stays for a few days only, making notes for Seven Pillars from files at the Arab Bureau.
Back in Paris, Lawrence finds that the British commitment to the Arabs has weakened considerably in the face of hostility from both France and the Government of India. With nothing to do in Paris, he goes to Oxford to take up a Research Fellowship at All Souls College. He remains there until early December, working on Seven Pillars. At around this time, he buys land at Pole Hill in Essex, bordering Epping Forest, where he and a friend plan to set up a private press.
The American journalist Lowell Thomas begins giving popular lectures in London that will transform Lawrence into a national hero. The show opens for a brief season at the Royal Opera House, but it is so successful that it is then transferred to the Royal Albert Hall (October) and later to The Queen's Hall. It then tours the provinces.
Britain announces plans to evacuate Syria, leaving Feisal's Arab administration in Damascus to work out a modus vivendi with the French, who have already taken direct control in what is now Lebanon.
In Late November, while Lawrence is changing trains at Reading during a journey from Camberley to Oxford, the bag in which he is carrying his draft of Seven Pillars it is stolen. The manuscript is never recovered.
Lawrence moves to Barton Street in Westminster and during the following weeks hurriedly rewrites from memory a new draft of Seven Pillars.
T.E. Lawrence 1888-1935
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset