Research and discussion
Page updated May 2012
Outline chronology: 1922
Lawrence begins secret negotiations to enlist in the ranks of the RAF under an assumed name. Late in the month he begins sending chapters of the newly completed Seven Pillars draft to the Oxford Times printing works, where they will be typeset. Eight sets of pages are printed there on a proofing press (this method of reproduction was cheaper than having the manuscript typed). He sends the chapters to the printer un-numbered and in a random order, to prevent anyone but himself from assembling the text.
On 1 March Lawrence finishes his duties at the Colonial Office but is entitled to three months' paid leave. During this, he completes the polished 1922 text of Seven Pillars.
On 1 July Lawrence formally leaves the Colonial Office and begins final negotiations for his secret enlistment. By 21 July both Churchill and the Secretary of State for Air have agreed.
The binders deliver the first copies of Seven Pillars. Lawrence sends them to various readers, beginning with Edward Garnett and Eric Kennington. Garnett, who had previously abridged Charles Doughty's Travels in Arabia Deserta, offers to make an abridgement of Seven Pillars for publication. Lawrence accepts the idea.
On 30 August Lawrence presents himself at the RAF recruiting office at Covent Garden. He fails the medical exam but is accepted on orders from the Air Ministry. He is posted to RAF recruits' training depot at Uxbridge under the pseudonym John Hume Ross, and begins three months' basic training. While there, he will make notes for a projected book about life in the ranks.
Edward Garnett finishes the first draft of his abridged Seven Pillars. After revision, it will be offered for publication to Jonathan Cape. However, three months later George Bernard Shaw will persuade Lawrence to abandon the scheme.
On 7 November Lawrence is posted from Uxbridge to the RAF School of Photography at Farnborough.
The press reveals that Lawrence is serving in the ranks of the RAF under a pseudonym.
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