Research and discussion
Page updated May 2012
Outline chronology: 1923
The RAF decides that the press publicity has made it impossible to retain 'Aircraftman Ross', and he is dismissed from the ranks. Lawrence, a civilian again, goes into hiding at a small hotel in Frensham, Surrey. His appeals to rejoin the ranks of the RAF are refused.
Lawrence applies to join the Tank Corps as a private, hoping to transfer back to the RAF at a later date. On 23 February he is accepted, and takes a new pseudonym, T. E. Shaw.
'Shaw' arrives at Bovington Camp for eighteen weeks' basic training. He quickly concludes that the army compares very badly to the RAF.
Jonathan Cape asks Lawrence to translate Mardrus' Mille et une Nuits into English. Lawrence is enthusiastic, and also agrees to tackle a minor French novel by Adrien le Corbeau called Le Gigantesque. The Arabian Nights project comes to nothing, since Cape learns that another translation is already in progress; but work on the Gigantesque takes up much of Lawrence's free time during the summer. He begins to visit Thomas Hardy, who lives nearby.
Lawrence finishes Le Gigantesque, published in Britain and America in 1924 as The Forest Giant.
Lawrence takes possession of Clouds Hill, a cottage he rents [later purchases] near Bovington Camp. For many months it remains poorly furnished and in a state of semi-repair, but it provides him with a place where he can write, during his free time, without disturbance.
On 9 December Lawrence meets his bank manager and two other friends at Oxford. It is decided that he will abridge and revise the 1922 text of Seven Pillars for a private subscription edition. About 100 copies will be issued, at a price of 30 guineas. Lawrence expects the task to take at least one year, and not more than two years. While he works on the text, his friends will find subscribers. D. G. Hogarth will help edit the proofs. Eric Kennington will supervise reproduction of the illustrations.
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