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Threads: December 1997
Ocampo-Caillois 38-41
More thoughts on 'The Hero who despised himself' 42, 66
Allegations that Lawrence spied at Carchemish 43-6
The million-dollar question 47-8
Publishers 48a
Childhood beatings 49
Analysis of Lawrence's strategy 50-52, 54-5, 61, 70
Season's greetings 53
Lawrence's reading at the Bodleian 56
TEL discussion 57, 60, 62-4
Early history 58-9
Greetings from Cape Town 65
Two cents... and Bob Lawrence 67-9, 71-2
The Lawrence family 73-4
TEL letters to his brother Bob 75
Bob Lawrence 76

0038) Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 04:30:02 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Ocampo - Caillois

In Paris this week I bought a copy of:

Roger Caillois / Victoria Ocampo: Correspondance (1939-1978), Lettres
rassemblées et présentées par Odile Felgine (Paris, Stock, 1997, ISBN 2-234-04602-5, 528 pages, index, FRF 140.00 TTC).

The correspondence contains a nmber of references to T. E. Lawrence. The blurb reads:

En 1939, l'éditrice argentine Victoria Ocampo, directrice de la revue SUR - la NRF agentine -, rencontre à Paris Roger Caillois, jeune agrégé de grammaire, cofondateur, avec Georges Bataille et Michel Leiris, du Collège de sociologie. Elle a quarante-huit ans, lui pas tout à fait vingt-six. Cette femme flamboyante, très belle, riche, indépendente, va devenir son Pygmalion.

Roger Caillois suit Victoria Ocampo en Argentine, ou il doit donner une série de conférences. Mais la Seconde Guerre mondiale survient et Caillois, qui s'est engagé aux côtés de la France libre, est bloqué en Amérique du Sud. Grace à Victoria Ocampo, il fonde une revue, Les Lettres Françaises, et découvre la littérature hispano-américaine dont il sera, de retour en France, l'incomparable passeur.

Cette 'Correspondance' (1939-1978), véritable document historique ou la création sud-américaine apparait à son zénith, est aussi un beau roman, sensuel, passioné et tragique, l'émouvante et fantastique déclaration d'amour qui se firent pendant quarante ans deux etres d'exception.


0039) Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 10:10:44 -0500
From: JCM, USA.
Subject: Re: Ocampo - Caillois

Due to the fact that it was my misfortune to take Spanish and Latin in high school and college and that I really do not understand French, is there anyway for someone to translate that blurb 'Correspondance'?


0040) Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 16:54:55 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Re: Ocampo - Caillois

I'll translate the Ocampo blurb, but will not have time before Wednesday - so if someone else wants to do it before then, feel free to go ahead. As far as I know, the book is only available in French - though a Spanish translation seems likely.

I think there are four or five lines of Lawrence references in the index, so I don't promise more than a general comment. Also, I want to read the book from the beginning, rather than just the TEL references, so that will take time.

0041) Date: Fri, 05 Dec 1997 18:11:32 -0800
From: Edward A. Jajko, USA
Subject: Re: Ocampo - Caillois

Here's a quick-and-dirty and more or less literal translation of the review; some will no doubt disagree with part or all. I couldn't come up with a one word equivalent for 'passeur', which means someone who introduces something or brings something new across a border. Corrections will be accepted with as good a grace as I can muster. I'm an Arabist, not a specialist in French.

- - -

In 1939, the Argentinian publisher Victoria Ocampo, director of the journal SUR [i.e. "South"] - the Argentinian NRF [i.e. Nouvelle revue francaise; 'new French revue'] - meets Roger Caillois, young graduate in grammar, and co-founder, with Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris, of the College of Sociology, in Paris. She is 48 years old, he barely 26. This flamboyant woman, very beautiful, rich, independent, will become his Pygmalion.

Roger Caillois follows Victoria Ocampo to Argentina, where he is to give a series of lectures. But WWII intervenes and Caillois, who sides with Free France, is blocked in South America. Thanks to Victoria Ocampo he founds a revue, Les Lettres Françaises, and discovers Spanish-American literature of which he will be, after [his] return to France, the transmitter beyond compare.

This "Correspondance" (1939-1978), a true historical document [of the time] when South-American creativity appeared at its zenith, is also a beautiful story [novel], sensual, impassioned, and tragic, the moving and imaginative declaration of the love that two exceptional beings created for forty years.


0042) Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 12:37:17 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: More thoughts on 'The Hero who despised himself'

page 29 col 1 para 2: Orlans writes: 'The [Lawrence] Trust urged Desmond Stewart's publisher, Hamish Hamilton, to alter or delete certain passages in his 1977 biography.'

This does not tally with my knowledge of what happened. I don't think anyone tried to do anything other than discourage publication of a sensational fantasy. Desmond Stewart, backed by Colin Simpson (who doubtless felt he had some private scores to settle) used the columns of the Sunday Times to promote the book.

Stewart, who had sided with Aldington in an article some years before in the right-wing journal The European, appears to have been happy to lap up anything damaging to Lawrence.

Page 29 col 2: 'Yet out of half a million words, Wilson [in the authorised biography] devotes 200 to Lawrence's death and funeral, and many readers may find the man they seek strangely absent from this avowedly "historical" biography.'

As regards the first point, I took a deliberate decision to limit the main text of the book to Lawrence's conscious life - and did so at both the beginning and the end. Many biographers, who have spent months researching their subject's ancestry, give us books which only get around to his or her birth after fifty pages or so of local and family history. That may demonstrate the author's diligence - but it can be very tedious and often seems to me to be fundamentally irrelevant. I resolved to do something different, and to limit my remarks on ancestry to an appendix - which was, nevertheless, more informative than most previous efforts.

Likewise, I really don't find that Lawrence's death and funeral - which have been exhaustively covered elsewhere - are particularly interesting or particularly relevant (except in the one-word 'finis' sense) to his career. Let others write about them if they wish.

Page 30 Col 1 para 3. Orlans describes as a 'cheerful view' the comments in my biography about the effect on Lawrence of his illegitimacy during his childhood/youth. If others have reached a similar conclusion, I am sorry. I sought neither to under-play it nor to over-play it. I think that, on one level, and in adult life, Lawrence was deeply conscious of it. I am much less certain about its influence on him during his childhood, because I suspect him of pretending that he knew all about it long before he did - at any rate accurately or in any detail. It was a natural British 'stiff upper lip' reaction - in adult life - to claim to have known about it for years, and to be completely unaffected. Yet the occasional remark - in adult life - shows that he really was affected, and deeply.

So I think that claim to be unaffected was a pretence, and that the claim to have known all about it as a child was probably part of that pretence. It is very likely that Lawrence knew something, before he discussed it with his mother after his father's death - but how much he knew, and how accurate that was, are big questions.

In the next para, Orlans gets on to the experience of childhood beatings. There is a trans-Atlantic cultural issue here. It was commonplace for British mothers (and schoolteachers) to beat children on the buttocks, even in my generation. I remeber well A.W.Lawrence's mirth when he recounted the occasion on which he had told John Mack that he and TEL had been beaten as children: "I could see profound and deepening concern in John's expression - not concern for TE, but for ME!!!" The incident became one of AW's stock yarns, which he told me two or three times.

I think that in England in those days parental beatings, like beatings at school, were just part of the battle of wit and will between children and adults. Beating was so commonplace that, if it left psychological damage, most boys in England would have been be sick. So I am extremely cautious about viewing it from a late 20th century North American standpoint.

Page 30 Col 2 para 2. Orlans notes (as a sign of distance) that Lawrence signed a letter home, written from Azraq in 1917, 'T. E. Lawrence'. That was not, however, the norm (he usually signed 'N' for 'Ned'). It is just possible that he used his full name on the letter in question to ensure that it passed the many communication and censorship hurdles that it must have faced to get from Azraq to Akaba to Cairo to Oxford. 'T. E. Lawrence' was a signature his colleagues knew. 'N' was not. Perhaps for similar reasons, the letter contains nothing of a remotely personal nature.

A general comment: Orlans picks up Liddell Hart's note of a conversation with Lawrence: 'Father and son discord'. A. W. Lawrence stressed to me that biographers were wrong to suggest that his father was spineless and his mother dominant. Both parents had strong personalities - which is implicit in Lawrence's own statements about them.

Page 31 Col 2 para 5 - 'Authorities disagree over whether Lawrence spied at Carchemish. Arnold Lawrence, Mack, Ernest Dawn, and Wilson say "No"; Villars, Knightley and Simpson, Stewart, H. V. F. Winstone, and Tabachnick, "Yes" ' (Orlans 'leans towards the former position, but a negative is hard to prove')

Here again, it is worth taking a look at biographers' motives and qualifications:

Villars, French, was strongly influenced by the long-standing French belief (nurtured by French officials dealing with post-war Syria) that Lawrence was a spy. The spy myth has a long tradition in French writings on Lawrence. In fact, it was imported into English biographies as a result of the translation of Villars into English, and the attraction of the theory to:

Phillip Knightley - an excellent professional journalist with a high reputation, whom I like personally. He is nevertheless Australian, and his wife is Indian. He is inclined (in my view) to see the machinations of British Imperialism everywhere - sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. Also, he came to Lawrence direct from a highly successful book on the spy Philby. For that reason he was, I think, attracted to the suggestion that Lawrence had been an 'intelligence operative'. Nevertheless, his case - the strongest ever put forward - offered no solid proof and contains some obvious weak-points.

I do not regard Desmond Stewart as a scholar.  In this instance, he was trying to write a 'commercial' book (for a publisher not noted for works of scholarship). After the success of Philby, spy allegations were thought to make books sell - at any rate in Britain.

As for Winstone... His work has been demolished by experts, and no one should take him seriously. On the occasions I have been tempted to do so, I have been appalled to discover his abuse of historical evidence. I have tried to understand his motives, but failed. The intention may have been commercial, but none of his books can have sold very well. I think his granular writing style is against him.

Tabachnick is an English Literature professor, not a historian. Although he has published works of criticism he has, to the best of my knowledge, done little original historical research on Lawrence - certainly not enough to assess the merits of this question. On this and other historical issues I think that his 'Images of Lawrence' is marred by uncritical acceptance of statements by certain writers.

It is surely significant that those who have done a lot of historical research, or who like A. W. Lawrence knew the area and the issues well, all think that the spy allegations are nonsense.


0043) Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 17:34:13 -0500
From: St.John Armitage
Subject: Allegations that Lawrence spied at Carchemish

I am particularly interested in this part of Jeremy Wilson's commentary on Harold Orlans. The latter cites George Steiner's lament "that, once entrenched - repeatedly cited in publications - error can become inexpungable". He then repeats many of the errors - sometimes uncritically - thereby helping to perpetuate them. His images of Lawrence are hardly less false than those in Tabachnik's compilation, but at least he sets out views in contrast rather than merely presenting different potted biographical notes.

The following is an extract from a talk which I gave to the TELSOC Seminar at Oxford in 1992:

"By their superficial approach to, and misinterpretation of, much of their source material (particularly that dealing with the period up to the Armistice), later writers such as Philip Knightley and Colin Simpson in The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia (Nelson 1969) and Desmond Stewart in T.E. Lawrence (Hamish Hamilton 1977) contributed substantially to Lawrencian mythology. As their errors of fact and their fictions compounded those of earlier writers, so later writers chose the easy way of citing their works rather than correcting them, still less studying the original sources. Thus, a Cambridge scholar, [the late] Dr. Robin Bidwell, wrote in 1976 "I am completely convinced by Knightley and Simpson that before 1914 Lawrence was an "amateur" member of British Intelligence" (Arabian Studies III). Yet by his own earlier admission (in Jeffrey Meyers The Craft of Literary Biography, Macmillan 1985), Knightley had written that Hogarth fitted his conception of a pre-war spy therefore Lawrence must have been his recruit. He admits to having developed this fancy (further distorting the facts by adducing numerous errors) although, in his own words, "we turned up no positive proof of these theories", they were "accepted".

Most notably, perhaps, in the past decade, H.V.F. Winstone in The Illicit Adventure (Jonathan Cape 1983) has drawn on earlier myths as well as his own imagination to fuel his obsession with conspiracy and espionage (the pervasive theme of that book) and Lawrence's mythical place therein.

The myth, and substance, of Lawrence's intelligence activities has since been dealt with by Jeremy Wilson in his biography of Lawrence. But there is another, yet earlier myth, the creation of one of Lawrence's former companions in the Hijaz, for a brief spell, and one of his earliest detractors in print, Major N.N.E. Bray. Winstone compounded Bray's flight of fancy by repetition, elaboration and misquotation (op. cit. p.298). He also started one of his own by careless quotation, if not worse, of an original letter by Lawrence in order to introduce baseless comment on its author.

When I first read The Illicit Adventure, I was surprised that a book classified as history by the British Library and with such high pretensions to the search for, and the research of, original source material (in the author's words "a truthful account of events" told through those sources) could possibly contain so many errors of fact. In
certain instances Winstone's abuse of material(which struck me forcibly because of my familiarity with his sources) gives rise to wholly misleading
insinuation or statement...."

Those who have cited Carchemish as an excuse for spying on the Baghdad Railway and cast Lawrence and Hogarth as spies for that purpose have completely ignored the wealth of travel material about the railway. It was not a secret project. Travellers moved along the route with little let or hindrance except the normal difficulties of travel in the early years of the century. David Fraser, a correspondent for "The Times of India" travelled along the route, drew plans, took photographs and set out the problems which the surveyor encountered in siting the bridge at Jerablus. The American Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul published information about the railway. Major C.C.R. Murphy visited Baghdad in January 1914 and was shown over the railway works by the German Engineer in Chief, Meissner Pasha (who had been responsible for the Hijaz Railway) who "made no secret of what was going on" even though at this late date English visitors, especially British officers, was resented. Meinertzhagen travelled in Mesopotamia about the same time. As he records, in return for permission to take his leave there the Government of India asked him to collect information about road and river transport and the new Baghdad Railway.

Travellers then, travellers since, civilian and military, have collected information, have passed it on to others. In days when western expatriates in the area were far fewer than the tens of thousands to-day, the most likely call would be on a lonely consul and discussion of routes would be a natural subject. Whether or not such information ended up in intelligence hands, the collection and passing on of travel information did not make the traveller an intelligence agent - a "spy".

Lawrence did not go secretly to Carchemish nor is there any evidence that he kept secret watch on the railway or reported secretly on that project. In brief, there is no evidence that he "spied" at Carchemish or reason to embellish the accounts of his activities there as described by himself, Woolley, Hogarth, Thompson, Young, Gertrude bell and other contemporaries.


0044) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 10:45:25 -0500
From: AM, USA
Subject: Re: Allegations that Lawrence spied at Carchemish

I still don't understand why the subject of TEL continues to attract such sloppy scholarship. St. John Armitage says that later writers choose the easy way by citing the Knightley/Simpson/Stewart school of works, rather than correcting those works or studying the original sources. But isn't it just as easy to cite Jeremy Wilson's work or to build upon it, especially since he went out of his way to lay out his original source materials for any future scholars to see? They can't accuse Jeremy Wilson or you of being stingy with your findings.

It seems to me, too, that some writers are reluctant to cite to Jeremy Wilson's work because it's the "authorized biography," which they interpret as the "sanitized biography". That puzzles me. No one accuses Martin Gilbert of cleaning up Churchill's life, do they? These judgements seem so arbitrary.

I just fail to see why, with so much excellent and thorough material about TEL available, writers continue to ignore the good stuff and rehash the garbage. I don't think it's a matter of being easier to do it that way.


0045) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 12:32:36 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Re: Allegations that Lawrence spied at Carchemish

AM, USA is daring to ask the million dollar question!

I don't think that the field of Lawrence scholarship has been exhausted by my work. Even in terms of fact, I know that (for reasons of space) I had to leave a great deal out. Likewise, I deliberately minimised interpretation, leaving plenty of scope for others.

So I don't think that either the untapped material available or the existing published literature imposes on authors a need to write inaccurate and sensational books.

The blame lies squarely with publishers, and with the media who publicise books. My conclusion about modern trade publishers, having dealt with them for quite a while, is that if Roman-style gladitorial combat were not nowadays illegal, they would be its principal promoters. In other words, there is virtually no depth to which a trade publisher will not sink, if there is the faintest hope that by doing so it might make a profit.

These people seem to me to be so jaded, as a result of their total commitment to the shockingly avant-garde and the sensationally way-out, that they have lost touch with the values and tastes of the average reader. Only that can explain why so many books that are hyped in the trade press as certain best-sellers then turn out to be flops - while some others, that nobody has noticed, become a huge success.

Authors - who need money to live - write the kind of book that publishers tell them will succeed, and publishers' desiderata determine not only what gets written, but also the calibre and integrity of the pool of willing authors. We get neither what we want nor what we deserve, but what publishers think they can persuade us to buy.

I believe in Free Speech, but I also support the Advertising Standards Authority. I think it is wrong for a publisher to promote a book to the public as historical scholarship if its main conclusions are built on deliberately sensationalised fiction, and are thoroughly misleading.

Therefore, I would be amused to see some publishers prosecuted under the laws that forbid dishonest advertising. Is it not dishonest, for example, to claim that Lawrence's James has proved that Lawrence lied about the Deraa incident, and to market a biography containing such a claim (and many lesser inaccuracies) as an admirable account of someone's life? Maybe it was pardonable in the first edition, but surely not in the revised edition, published after his Deraa theory had been publicly rebutted?

In my opinion, the object of such books - for their publishers and authors - can only be to make money from sensationalism. Why else would someone insist on republishing a sensational theory that has been disproved? The only way to halt that process would be to make it expensive - for example to fine the publishers very heavily if they were caught deliberately misrepresenting sensational nonsense as historical fact, with a view to commercial gain. That is what happens to manufacturers of other kinds of goods, so why not publishers?

Of course, that will never happen. People would argue, with some reason, that such a procedure would stifle revisionist scholarship: that 'fact' would then be just the accepted wisdom, turned into stone..

I agree with that, but there's a difference between revisionist interpretation and abuse of historical evidence such as misleadingly selective quotation or deliberate misquotation. 

The golden rule in all forms of dishonesty is, 'Thou shall not be found out'. As things stand, given the general incompetence of reviewers and the shallowness of their virtually unpaid work, there is little risk of that!

Dream on...

0046) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 17:01:56 -0500
From: Harold Orlans
Subject: Re: Allegations that Lawrence spied at Carchemish

On the matter of truth and error in the Lawrence literature: While Wilson
may be right that most trade publishers are more interested in sales than in solid work, other factors contribute to the perpetuation of error and to continuing conflict and disagreement about precisely what is true.

We should distinguish (1) empirically verified truths - discrete facts or events plainly established by ample, independent, objective evidence; (2)
only partially verified truths; and (3) inferences drawn from them (1 and

Historian Henry Adams once said, "At the most moderate estimate, the historian can hardly expect that four out of five of his statements of fact
shall be exact. On the average every history contains at least one assertion of fact to every line. A history like that of Macaulay contains much more than one hundred and fifty thousand assertions or assumptions of fact... If the rule holds good, at least thirty thousand of these so-called facts must be more or less inexact."

The truths about Lawrence that most interest us are type (2) and (3) truths about his actions, motives, or character that have not been and perhaps can not be conclusively determined by objective evidence that all fair-minded observers will accept.

Yesterday, Attorney General Reno and FBI Director Freeh testified that they agreed about a large body of evidence but disagreed about the conclusion to be drawn from it. That situation is common in politics, science, and scholarship.

Biographies that are full of heedless error have nonetheless had a major influence on the public's conception of Lawrence. Think only of Lowell Thomas, whose specious fancies promoted the image of Lawrence as a romantic hero, and Richard Aldington, whose nasty denigration planted the seeds from which Stewart, Yardley, and James have sprouted.

The average reader of one biography has not read all previous biographies and carefully weighed the merits and weaknesses of each. He gains a general impression of Lawrence and that impression lasts. If he is a scholar or writer who does not read an entire book but uses it for a limited purpose, he may pick up and propagate the biographer's interpretation of a particular episode.

After Aldington's biography appeared, Noel Coward, who had met and evidently liked Lawrence, read it and, like many other readers, thought less of Lawrence. David Fromkin was persuaded by Stewart (who had himself been persuaded by Mousa) that Lawrence's lone foray into Syria just before the Akaba capture was "almost certainly fictitious." In his introduction to the 1997 Wordsworth edition of Seven Pillars, Angus Calder, plainly persuaded by Lawrence James, writes, "we now know that the most dramatic single episode in Seven Pillars - our hero's flogging and sodomisation in Deraa - simply cannot have happened."

These are merely some of the many ways besides the iniquities of publishers by which errors in our knowledge and understanding of Lawrence are perpetuated.


0047) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 19:21:23 -0500
From: AM, USA
Subject: The million-dollar question

Sorry to misconstrue (partly out of an old frustration on my part). But that million dollars will do much to calm me down. What a list -- good discussion AND cash prizes!


0048) Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 17:51:35 -0500
From: St.John Armitage
Subject: Re: The million-dollar question
Don't ask me - ask the writers, particularly Lawrence James whose "Revised and Updated" Golden Warrior contained even more errors of fact than the first edition.

Some of the blame may rest with the publishers who from either ignorance or intent (or both) see more sales in hot fiction and warm gossip than in facts, and encourage, demand even, the spice of the spurious.


0048a) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 10:15:16 -0500
From: Harold Orlans
Subject: Publishers

Publishers or, rather, trade publishers, deserve their share of criticism. In the U.S. these days, they are not even inclined to read a manuscript and form their own judgment of it. They prefer to deal with literary agents and to read proposals, i.e., the author's promotional summary, that may not, indeed can not, accurately and adequately represent the manuscript that readers will actually encounter.

However, let's not overdo it. Trade publishers have also issued Mack and
Wilson's biographies, Brown's edition of Lawrence's letters, and Morris and Raskin's book on Lean's epic; they have reissued Graves and Liddell Hart's early biographies and the 1926 Seven Pillars. Academic and specialized presses have published serious work by Lawrence (Crusader Castles, Secret Despatches, the Odyssey), about him (Malcolm Allen, Joel Hodson, Paul Marriott and Yvonne Argent, Andrew Kelly et al., Sidney Sugarman, Daniel Wolfe), or about matters in which he was closely involved (The Arab Revolt, The Arab Bureau). Whatever is wrong, misleading, or superficial in these works is mainly the responsibility of the authors, not publishers.


0049) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997
From: RVH, Belgium
Subject: Childhood beatings

A few personal thoughts about Lawrence's childhood beatings: Jeremy wrote in a reply to Harold Orlans' article in T.E. Notes: "It was commonplace for British mothers to beat children on the buttocks". O.K. that indeed was the case. And if we are making an opinion about the mothers who did so 100 years ago, we have to judge them in the context of the time they were living in. But this doesn't change the case of the children. No matter when it happened, in the Middle Ages, in 1895 or in 1997, the facts remain the same and that is: they were victims of child abuse. It's an experience these children had to carry along for the rest of their lives. I agree that most of them probably didn't become depressive or sick of it, but be sure that there must have been periods or moments that the remembering of it troubled them.

I myself am no pshychiatrist, nevertheless I was able to talk with several people who were victim of child abuse. Two of them I know very well, because they are friends of mine. One was beaten on the buttocks like Lawrence, the other on his hands. The first one told me his story when he was 25, the other must have been at least 40 when he told me. Both men were never depressive or looking unhappy as far as I know, but at the moment they told me about it I could feel there was a great need to come out with it, which I think was positive, but also shows that it wasn't always easy to live with it, although it happened so many years ago.

Why do we try not to beat our children today? I think simply because we
realise that it can put pshychological damage on them. So, be very careful with thinking that these beatings meant very little or nothing to Lawrence (for example because it was commonplace during those days, or because he never wrote or talked about it). Children can suffer from the physical humiliation, from the feeling of injustice, from the pain, from the impotence for the rest of their lives or learn to enjoy the punishment as Orlans asks himself in his article. I think it's difficult or impossible to judge the influence these childhood beatings had on Lawrence's later life, I only want to say: be aware not to underestimate it.

P.S.: To make things clear: I don't say that Mr. Orlans or Wilson underestimate or misjudge Lawrence's childhood beatings.

0050) Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 13:35:53 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

The message below came to my private e-mail address. I can't think of any serious military analysis of Lawrence's strategy. A book on the subject in French has recently been published, containing some essays dating from the late 1950s - but the copy I ordered has yet to arrive.

So... I throw it open. Can someone help with some suggestions?

Forwarded message:

"I am a student at the US Naval War College writing a research paper on the military thought of T.E. Lawrence. Besides Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Revolt in the Desert, and an article in Army Quarterly, are there other sources of Lawrence's writing you would suggest? Thank you for your assistance."

0051) Tue, 23 Dec 1997 17:56:43 EST
From: Bob Archibald
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

One source immediately comes to mind: Chapter IX, "Martial Reveries", of Liddell Hart's Colonel Lawrence [of Arabia]. There, Liddell Hart discusses (among other things) the influence of Marshal Saxe on Lawrence's military thinking.


0052) Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 18:10:50 -0800
From: GH, USA
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

Of course there is also Lawrence's own essay on guerilla warfare in the Encyclopaedia Britannica 14th edition (1929). That may be the best source. I also recall references to Lawrence in the Marine Corps Gazette. e.g. Pavey, First Lieutenant R.A. "The Arab revolt" Vol. 40 No. 7 (July 1956) pp 48-52


0053) Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 06:40:55 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Season's greetings

Belated greetings for Christmas and New Year!

The main object of this posting is to encourage more of you to participate in discussions on the list. The list is monitored and I promise you that there will be no 'flames' or abusive postings. The one person who has so far attempted to post a flame (written, to judge by the content and typing, while "under the influence") was promptly and permanently removed from the list.

This said, I don't see myself as a censor of opinion about Lawrence so, unless postings are irrelevant, they are passed to the list.

An admin point: as a matter of courtesy, please don't forget to sign your postings. The subscription mechanism provides us with your e-mail address but not necessarily a name. Consequently, if you forget to sign your posting we may not be able to do it for you.

Lastly, I must admit that the technology is occasionally erratic. One or two messages I have passed on for distribution have disappeared without trace - and I don't always notice what has happened until the person who posted them tries again. I am sorry.

I hope that 1998 will be a good year for everyone on the list!


0054) Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 07:10:26 -0500
From: St.John Armitage
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

The only published work I know of is the one mentioned by Jeremy Wilson: Lucien Poirier's "T.E.Lawrence, stratege" first published in "Revue militaire d'information" nos.318 and 320 in 1960.

However, I regard this as the work of an armchair strategist not a professional soldier.

Liddell-Hart's account is less a study of Lawrence's strategy than a presentation of Lawrence's own comments on stategy and tactics in his exchanges with L-H. Whatever Lawrence's claims to his study, understanding and interpretation of strategy, he was essentially a tactician. Articles 22 to 24 of his 'Twenty Seven Articles' are the essence of his tactical thinking and practice. During the Second World War both the Long Range Desert Group and Special Air Service drew on Lawrence's example and the 'Twenty Seven Articles' have been well refined over the years to SAS requirements.

With regard to unpublished, professional opinion, I suggest that the Army War College should be AW's starting point - if he fails to find useful material, I will send him the references.


0055) Date: 12/23/97 7:50:41AM
From: GD, France
Subj: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy
I think that the book by Sulieman Mousa, T.E. Lawrence, an Arab View though not a study of Lawrence's military achievements and strategies as such should not be overlooked in so far as it qualifies quite usefully the impression of boiling activity and amazing efficiency one can get reading only Lawrence's own account of his adventures. I recommend it also because of its (admitedly boring) accuracy and thoroughness in the study of Lawrence true role in the Arab Revolt. 


0056) Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 12:28:57 EST
From: HR, Germany
Subject: Lawrence's reading at the Bodleian

In the catalogue issued on the occasion of the exhibition held in the Bodleian Library in 1988 I found an article in the appendix entitled "T.E. Lawrence's reading in the Bodleian Library 1908 - 1914."

It says that during his reading sessions in the Bodleian Library  "Lawrence ordered a number of books which were fetched for him...  Records of some of these requests have been traced ... of which some 200 or so survive."

A few of these titles are mentioned in the article. Does anyone know if a fuller list of these titles is available? Doubtless, knowledge  of the kind of books Lawrence read during his formative years at Oxford would give us some deeper insights into the evolvement of his interests.


0057) Date: Sat, 27 Dec 97 10:52:10 -0500
From: KF, USA
Subject: TEL discussion

I have enjoyed very much the discussions on your list. Thank you for  generating and maintaining it for us.

I suspect there are probably 5-10 people who have the knowledge and  expertise to discuss Lawrence at an authors level. That can be a bit  intimitating to some of us who are amatuer Lawrencians. We just don't  have the experience, access to original sources to discuss on a higher  plane. I think, perhaps, that is why your list is often devoid of  discussion other than by yourself, Orlans, Archibald and Armitige. Not  that those discussions are not enormously valuable and appreciated by  other subscribers.

Early in the development of your list your mentioned that to spur discussion you would take a subject, such as Sarah Lawrence, and begin a  topic discussion. I still think that would be valuable and participatory to all; no matter what knowledge level. Please again consider that approach.


0058) Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 22:49:18 -0500
From: AHP, USA
Subject: Early History

I feel a bit like a shy kid in a particularly large seminar (on a day for which I didn't do all the reading ...), but participation is obviously necessary to any group like ours, and THEREFORE--

Back in July Mr. Wilson suggested that we start with thoughts about Lawrence "pre-history": the Chapman family, the "Lawrence" family's early maneuverings. Since I know only the basic facts of the Lawrence background, I looked into the early pages of John Mack's biography for information.

Mack points out that a "kind of uncomplaining riches-to-rags image" seems to be central to accounts of Mr. Lawrence--and yet, as Mack says, "The picture of the grand lord of the manor, carried off and transformed by a powerful woman is, though accurate in certain respects, probably exaggerated .... It is difficult, for example, to explain altogether satisfactorily how such a strong, heroic and religious man could be induced in his prime to give up his name, estates and entire status in life for love, living thereafter a quiet life as a displaced country gentleman, no matter how comely or compelling the woman." (Page 7.)

Mack suggests briefly that perhaps Thomas Chapman's life in Ireland wasn't so aristocratic as TEL (and many biographical accounts) assumed (however, "Except for the notation in the baronetages that Thomas Chapman heard cases as a J.P. in County Westmeath, we have no concrete evidence to support our suspicions")--and/or that his later life wasn't as toned-down and constricted as is commonly understood. "[T]here is evidence that he was somewhat more of a personage in England than the accepted biographical acounts might suggest", Mack says.

The point that Dr. Mack is making appears to be that Thomas Chapman's transformation into Mr. Lawrence would seem less startling if it weren't such a social and economic leap--but what does Mack mean by "evidence that [Mr. Lawrence] was ... more of a personage in England" than had been thought? Is this a reference to the hunting and yachting that one finds mentioned briefly in many biographical accounts? Or was there something more? [I have a faint idea that the Authorised Biography dealt with this a bit, but alas I have no copy here!] How great WAS the transition from Chapman to Lawrence, in terms of lifestyle? Did Thomas give up vast comforts to stay with Sarah? Or had Lady Chapman made his life so unpleasant that it didn't matter? Or was the switchover mainly one of identity and morality, with social standing somehow remaining level?


0059) Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 06:24:16 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Re: Early History

As a psychiatrist, John Mack was of course keen to examine Lawrence's family background as closely as possible. The problem is that there is little evidence. The four Chapman daughters died without children. There appears to be no archive of family papers, and the only relatives of any kind are very distant. Therefore, it comes down to incoherent fragments of information, hearsay, and rumour - which are not in the least satisfactory as sources. Research about Irish families is also severely handicapped because so much was destroyed when the Irish Record Office burned down.

Where the facts run out, theories proliferate...

I must say that I cannot accept a theory that men (or women) will not accept living in a different country with a reduced social status in order to be with the person they love - particularly if the alternative is as acceptable as the successive Lawrence family homes in Dinard, the New Forest, and Oxford! In Europe at least, such a theory looks nonsensical - and I find it hard to believe that it rings true in the US either. On this issue, Mack's outlook seems to me oddly materialistic.

As regards Chapman's position in Ireland, Mack's theory was simply wrong. During my research I found that the Chapman family owned plenty of land, but it was split into a number of small lots - of which I have a detailed list dating from the time that the estate was finally sold. I also have Chapman's brother's Will, which showed that the family held very substantial investments. Their country home - a rather severe building pictured in Mack's book - does not from the outside look all that impressive if your preconceptions about a British stately home call for a Palladian portico.... but it was plenty large enough for a family of six to live in aristocratic style. Chapman also had a house with an excellent address in Dublin. A specialist in Irish aristocracy told me that they would certainly have figured in the top rank of Irish society.

Lawrence's version of their life-style in Oxford was, I think, romantically exaggerated downwards in order to strike a dramatic comparison with Chapman's earlier life. In reality, as my research showed, Chapman had a respectable income from the Chapman estate. Had he lived just a few months longer, he would have received a further substantial inheritance: sufficient to have changed the course of his sons' lives. A. W. Lawrence told me he was nonplussed by Lawrence's comments about their standard of living in Oxford (he had a private theory about Lawrence's motives, but would not tell me what it was). The Lawrence family had servants, continental holidays, and so on and so on. If Mrs Lawrence was thrifty, it was by nature - after all, she had been brought up in modest circumstances in Scotland. I recall that when I was at Oxford in the early 1960s, mothers of more than one of my friends were still obviously influenced in their catering habits by the shortages they had experienced as young wives during the war!

The question of social standing is a difficult one, particularly in England, where social status is not necessarily related to blood or to wealth or to education or to achievement - but often to some intangible thing which might be described as shared sets of values, standards of conduct, and tastes. In a city like Oxford, at that time dominated by the university, society would have been much less affected than, say, London society by simple issues of 'class'. Although he did not attend Oxford University, Mr Lawrence was given membership of the Oxford Union - which he used regularly. While many outsiders think of it is a debating society, the Union was then, as it is now, very much a club - with library, restaurant, bar, etc - open to and used by old members of the university as well as current students (and not to be confused with a modern student's union - which exists seperately at Oxford, under the acronym OUSU). Mr Lawrence's interest in photography and cycling allowed him to pursue his particular hobby - the study of church architecture. He had friends in Oxford who shared this, and it would certainly have provided a passport in the social world that surrounds the university.

I think that Mack also exaggerates the influence on Lawrence of Medievalism. Yes, the medieval world may well attracted Lawrence because of certain needs in his psychological make-up. However, I think the theory is much over-stated by Mack - perhaps because it was 'new'. Lawrence may have been interested in, and expert on, the medieval world - but he was sufficiently intelligent to recognise that he was actually living in the 20th century! There were many other influences - such as Canon Christopher's brand of Christianity, the views absorbed during childhood from his parents, the opinions of his university friends and teachers, the popular concept of British Imperial responsibility, and the sentimental notion of the 'noble savage' - all these, and more, imparted other messages. Lawrence's brand of romanticism seems to me to have much broader roots than the medieval world.

As a conclusion, I will say again that the great danger in biography is the attempt to build up a comprehensible interpretation by giving vastly over-simplified explanations of cause and effect. I think that in such cases it is better to set out what you know, and underline that conclusions can only be tentative, than to decide on a theoretical 'interpretation' - and back it up with selected fragments of evidence, brushing under the carpet anything that doesn't quite fit. In Lawrence's case, the essence of his appeal is surely the thought-provoking mystery. By offering trite solutions, we not only miss the point ourselves, but prevent others knowing that there ever was one!


0060) Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 15:55:00 -0500
From: St.John Armitage
Subject: Re: TEL discussion

I share KF's conclusion about participation, but not his suspicion that "there are probably 5-10 people who have the knowledge and expertise to discuss Lawrence at an authors level. That can be a bit intimidating to some of us who are amateur Lawrencians". His suspicion might not be a complete misconception, but it holds the danger of a self-inflicted wound which may be almost as damaging. There should be no distinction amongst those who are genuinely - seriously - interested in Lawrence. That interest alone should be sufficient qualification for being heard.

One problem in the study of Lawrence is the plethora of material, so much of it misleading because of repetition, regurgitation and embroidery of errors, as well as plain traduction of the record. A common major error, particularly in respect of Lawrence in Arabia, is to judge Lawrence by Seven Pillars, failing to read that work in the light of Lawrence's official reports. His despatch on the fall of Damascus, his early reconnaissance reports, and his report on the capture of Tafila are of especial interest. Seven Pillars is an atmospheric work. Like Doughty it
breathes (or, rather, not many years ago, breathed) Arabia.

Even in cases where it now appears that Lawrence was wrong or exaggerated, there is usually more truth in his tale than mere happy fancy. Dera'a and the Syrian ride remain unproven. Even if, in place and time, the details of the former were misleading, the portrayal has, at least, a basis in portrayal of an experience in Lawrence's life. The latter cannot be disproved; but, if a lie, it would detract only from Lawrence's stature. Lawrence's perception of the Syrian situation in his subsequent report to Clayton was no lie, but an accurate assessment, on the acceptance of which hung the future of the Arab operations based on Aqaba. Clothed in the gallantry of an audacious recconaissance, it tipped the balance in a way which no report presented as an assessment of the situation based on information gathered from visitors to the Nabk base would have been likely to do.

I am rather surprised that GD should find Sulaiman Mousa's book boring. Based as it was on more careful research than most biographies, not least in his study of Arab sources, it is a challenging work. Arnold Lawrence rose to that challenge and Mousa defended his position; but what is still more interesting is that, in the thirty years since publication, Mousa has shown an open and balanced approach to expansion and amendment of his original research. In various articles and books, he has made a major contribution to the history of the Arab Revolt and to our knowledge of Lawrence as seen through the eyes of Arab contemporaries. Unfortunately, the bulk of his work remains untranslated from the Arabic. His assessment of Lawrence and the Arabs certainly corrects many of the misrepresentations of that relationship, particularly those in Sidney Sugarman's early magazine articles and his Garland of Legends, which contribute more to mythology than to history.

A useful topic of discussion would be the relevance and value of original sources, especially material that provides appropriate settings for Lawrence's life, as distinct from the many biographies which are so short on facts but long on opinion.

0061) Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 10:02:28 -0800
From: Edward A. Jajko
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

With regard to TEL's military thinking, I would add the following by the late Lewis Gann, who was a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution and a historian of note:

Gann, Lewis H.
Guerrillas in history / Lewis H. Gann. --
Stanford, California : Hoover Institution
Press, Stanford University, 1971.
99 p. -- (Hoover Institution studies ; 28)

On pages 44-45, Gann briefly discusses TEL's strategy. There may be other references in the book, but unfortunately it is without index. In his
bibliography, Gann lists SPOW and the EB article on "Guerrilla" as his sources.


062) Date: Mon, 29 Dec 97 17:12:29 PST
From: KH, UK
Subject: Re: TEL discussion

I've been on the list only since August 97, but have found it invaluable. It's true that I don't often have the impulse to write myself, because I don't feel knowledgable enough, and prefer to listen and learn. But the recent message from Jeremy Wilson, asking for more participation, made me feel a bit selfish. He and several others seem to hit an idea into play, only to be met by silence. I've read a great deal, not only about Lawrence, but about the Middle East in general, and have many questions. 

The acrid atmosphere that surrounds many of these things--given the resentment of many Arabs, and the bewildering variety of views of many in the West, is also intimidating. I think the more we know about Lawrence, the more we understand a part of the world that demands understanding.


0063) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 05:12:43 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Re: TEL discussion

The unmoderated Whittier List provides a forum for all kinds of discussion on Lawrence. It is now active again.

In the past some people - particularly busy professionals - found a significant proportion of the Whittier content unnecessary or irritating and they therefore unsubscribed.

I felt that many of these people were a real loss to discussions about Lawrence and that there ought to be a forum for their views.

Therefore, I decided to restrict this list to 'serious' discussion (that doesn't necessarily mean 'unfunny').

On the rare occasions when a decision about a posting has been necessary for this reason, I have simply asked myself 'Would a busy professional be irritated to find this posting in his/her mailbox'.

Different people choose to read and/or contribute to different newspapers. The same applies to discussion lists. Life is much too short to read everything that is published!


0064) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 00:41:15 EST
From: DHS, USA
Subject: Re: TEL discussion

In posting #59 St. John Armitage wrote: "self-inflicted wound which may be almost as damaging. There should be no distinction amongst those who are genuinely - seriously - interested in Lawrence. That interest alone should be sufficient qualification for being heard."

Thank you!

As a history major, I'm all for serious study of Lawrence to scrape away the layers of mythology and distortion (although personally, being a fan, I enjoy the mythology and interpretive studies).... I really appreciate all the attempts to bring out the truth in a balanced way.... Lawrence's reputation has suffered enough blows, and I believe the truth can only help his image by showing him as a remarkable, but human, being. That being said.... do we have to all be so "serious" all the time...surely there's room for a little humor and whimsy now and again?

Re KF's post (#57 )... wouldn't participation in discussion topics by amateur Lawrencians (such as myself) be .... chatty?

I agree... I enjoy all the scholarly input -where else can we read this kind of information? But, I'm still too intimidated to post most of the time.  Please define chatty. :)) What would be too chatty for the TEL Studies list, as opposed to the more informal Whittier list? Personally, I enjoyed and miss the philosophical offshoots and odd discussions, although not the flames.

Just my two cents....


0065) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 10:28:47 +0200
From: KVDM, South Africa
Subject: Greetings from Cape Town

May I, as a recent and now avid reader of TELstudies, extend my best  wishes to all the subscribers for the  festive season and may you all have a peaceful and prosperous 1998.

Kind regards (from the sunny climes of Cape Town, South Africa)


0066) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 06:27:35 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: More thoughts on 'The Hero who despised himself'

On page 20 cols. 1-2 Orlans discusses the problem of Lawrence's half-truths and deliberately provocative statements. One conclusion he reaches is that "Biographers' selection, rendition, and interpretation of 'facts' (their conviction of what is and is not true) can tell us more about them than Lawrence"

Note, however, the word 'can'.

I agree that there are cases, where Lawrence made only one or two relevant statements and where there is no kind of collateral evidence, where the biographer really has to make a choice. But these cases are much rarer than most people imagine. Yes, Lawrence often concealed the whole truth to one individual - but equally often he completed the picture in statements to someone else. There is a huge legacy of documents relating to facts about Lawrence's life and to his opinions. Behind me as I write are 90+ bulging chronological loose-leaf files of Lawrence's correspondence and closely relevant collateral material. If you read such a body of evidence (mostly available in a large research archive such as the Bodleian collection*), you will find that Lawrence is astonishingly consistent in his opinions, and that in most cases there can be little doubt about the facts. In future, much more of this material will be available and indexed, so it ought in principle to become easier to get things right.

This said, past experience is not encouraging. Biographers and journalists continue to publish conclusions that conflict with overwhelming evidence in standard sources such as Garnett's Letters collection that have been available for more than half a century...

Such people do indeed tell us about themselves when they perversely ignore this weight of evidence in order to promote some particular theory or interpretation. What we learn is that either (a) they didn't do enough research or (b) they are blind to what they see or (c) they are intellectually dishonest and perhaps deliberately mischievous.

(a) is unbelievably common, and regrettable though not always voluntary. However, there is no excuse for failing to read standard published sources.

(b) usually arises because people plump for interpretation too early in their research, and get carried away.

(c) is just that.

Inevitably, one comes back to the question of motivation. I think the problem about Lawrence is that the popular readership has been told to expect mysteries and astonishing revelations. Therefore publishers will accept little else, and writers conclude that, if there is money to be made, it will only be made by publishing conclusions that are new and sensational and provocative...

* The Bodleian archive will be open in 2000. Meanwhile, because of the promise made by A. W. Lawrence to owners of the original letters when he asked them to permit copies to be made, back in the 1930s, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust has formally to approve applicants who wish to see the archive. I understand that there is a small administration charge for doing this, but I know of no recent application that has been refused. Researchers wishing to see the archive must apply in the first instance to the Trust, not to the Bodleian.

I assume that researchers, now and after 2000, must also meet whatever criteria the Bodleian requires before someone is accepted as a reader.

0067) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 09:40:38 -0500
From: AM, USA
Subject: Two cents... and Bob Lawrence

I enjoy the questions and comments of the amateurs as much as those of the experts. We amateurs may not have research and evidence behind us (in Jeremy's case, literally behind him!), but we do have some fresh perspectives to TEL studies, and some of us even have life experiences that throw light on TEL. For example, the guy who was in Operation Desert Storm (I'm sorry I forgot your name) had some very interesting comments about military operations in that part of the world.
Also, some of the "simple" questions asked by the amateurs elicit detailed comments from the experts that you won't find in the books. On the whole, we're all an intelligent bunch, and rather polite, too. So if anyone has been shy about participating, well, just hold your breath and take the plunge.

Finally, a serious question: Jeremy, did you ever meet Bob Lawrence? I've often wondered why he wasn't used more as a source of information about his brother.


0068) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 10:39:22 -0500
From: Jeremy Wilson
Subject: Bob Lawrence

Bob Lawrence had a particular view of his brother - as someone to be promoted to kids as a kind of saint - and would stop at little (maybe nothing!) to advance it. I have seen a letter where he commends the books by Gurney Slade as the best portrait of TEL. The edition he prepared of The Home Letters of T. E. Lawrence and his Brothers (Blackwell/Macmillan 1954) contains dozens and dozens of omissions - mostly 'silent' - of things that Bob thought were 'unworthy'. Thus, when Lawrence facetiously commented that he did not intend to visit Oxford any more, because the city had disgraced itself by introducing a 30 mile-per-hour speed limit, Bob Lawrence decided that this was something readers should not know, and deleted the passage! (We will include corrected texts for these letters in our Lawrence Letters series).

For a long time, Bob Lawrence refused to let Blackwell's proof reader see the original letters, inventing a yarn that they were illegible because they had been dropped in a river, and that making his transcripts had been a heroic task. Blackwell appealed to AWL who forced the issue. It then turned out that whereas a few of the originals were damaged, most were perfectly legible, and that the transcripts had been drastically edited. There was a 'debate' - and finally a great many of the cuts were restored - but by no means all.

Also, the paragraphing of the printed edition is all wrong, because the publisher had to typeset the text from Bob Lawrence's handwritten transcript, in which he had omitted to indent new paragraphs. So the only new paragraphs that were reproduced were those where the previous line in the transcript was noticeably short. By the time the proofreader found that out, the cost of changing it all (the book had been set in monotype) would have been unthinkable.

Bob Lawrence, therefore, was someone who thought that the ends justified the means - and whose vision of the ends neither I nor A. W. Lawrence shared. I never attempted to meet him. Those who did told me that the propaganda was as strong and saintly as ever...

Unfortunately, the printed letters for Will and Frank Lawrence were not checked, and since Bob Lawrence's death the originals have disappeared without trace. Probably they were heavily edited as well.

I can understand why people destroy private documents, but it is very irritating and quite often counter-productive. You can only destroy one side of a correspondence, and when the other side comes to light it may lead to even worse conclusions... AWL used to enjoy telling researchers, with a mischievous grin, that he had burned thousands of pounds worth of papers. I dare say he did - but, thank heaven, he also kept a lot as well.

PS another thing about the Home Letters edition. Basil Blackwell, the publisher, told me that when he had approached Churchill to write the prefatory letter, Churchill had been too busy - or perhaps too far gone - to do so. Instead, Blackwell was invited to submit a suitable draft, which he did. It came back typed out on Downing Street paper and signed by Churchill...

Blackwell decided to reproduce the letter in the book in facsimile, without
making any claim as to who had written it!

Now that both men are dead, there can be no harm in revealing that Basil Blackwell was proud of his excursion into Churchillian prose:

'Eighteen years have passed since those words [Churchill's Allocution at the Oxford High School] were spoken, but now, pondering them again, I find not one to alter. The vast perils and catastrophes of the years between have not dimmed the splendour of his fame, nor blurred the impress of his personality upon the memory of his friends. It is the measure of his greatness that his multiple achievement has passed beyond opinion into history.'


0069) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 23:06:43 EST
From: DHS, USA
Subject: Re: Bob Lawrence

About Bob Lawrence - that reminds me, I've been wondering - did he die before Mrs. Lawrence? [answer below: JW] And if so, under what circumstances?  Descriptions of "Dr. Bob" conjure up an affectionate image in my mind; in what I imagine to be his courtly, Victorian character, he sounds a lot like my grandfather, also a doctor, who was his contemporary (although they probably never met).

Note by JW: Bob Lawrence died some years after his mother - I will check the date. I don't know the exact clinical cause of death, but it was essentially old age. At the time, AWL told me that it came as something of a mercy, because Bob's mind was going.


0070) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 21:21:37 -0500
From: FUA, USA
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

I am fairly new to this list, but a few days back or so, someone had an inquiry regarding Lawrence and military strategy. I came across these two articles. Accept my apologies if they were already mentioned.

1. Commander Charles L. Parnell, U.S. Navy. "Lawrence of Arabia's Debt to Seapower." Proceedings. Naval Academy. pp. 75-83, August 1979.

2. Reid, Brian Holden. "T.E. Lawrence and Liddell Hart." History. 70:218-231 June 1985


0071) Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 18:07:58 -0500
From: JAHP
Subject: Re: Bob Lawrence

"I have a brother who is a saint, and so I know how baffling saints are", T.E. wrote to F.L. Lucas in 1930. It seems the accusation went both ways!


0072) Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 09:04:28 -0500
From: AM, USA
Subject: Bob Lawrence

Bob Lawrence died in '71. If anyone has access to old London Times at a library and is inclined to look it up in the index, Bob Lawrence's obituary is worth reading. He earned a small column's worth of tribute on his own

Note by JW. Thanks for providing the date of MRL's death - my memory was way out! I don't think that anyone in that family was what one might describe as 'unremarkable'... There is also, of course, a privately-published series of letters from Bob to Stanhope Landick.]


0073) Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 10:22:39 -0600 (CST)
From: Ann Miller
Subject: The Lawrence family

For anyone who marvels about how Sarah Lawrence was seemingly incapable of having girl babies (re: her five sons + the three boys "between 1893 and 1900 who were stillborn or died shortly after birth") - well, a doctor told me that the more boys you have, the less likely it is that you'll give birth to a girl. And vice versa. He told me the exact odds, which I've forgotten.


0074) Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 10:48:57 -0700
From: TA, USA
Subject: RE: The Lawrence family

Perhaps my recollection of reproductive biology is shakey, but I was taught that, in humans, the sex a child is determined by the chromosome contributed by the fertilizing sperm cell of the male partner. Unless a particular male produces a preponderance of sperm favoring one sex (chromosome) over the other, the odds of producing either sex in the child are equal. If this be so, the odds of producing a child of one sex or the other are uneffected by the sex of previous offspring. In terms of probability theory, each time that you toss a coin, the odds are fifty/fifty, regardless of the mix of all previous results( 10 heads in a row do not change the 50/50 probability of the 11th toss).

If my understanding is correct, Sarah Lawrence's propensity to produce male children is the result of either remarkable coincidence, or a bit of reproductive "chauvinism" in her husband's anatomy.

PS...I personally have four children, all boys. My Father had 9 children, seven of which were boys. Does anyone know if this pattern can be attributed to heredity (in the male) ?

Note from JW: we need a real expert to resolve this one. Unless someone knows one, let's skip further speculation... After all, it's New Year's Eve!


0075) From: Clifford H. Irwin, USA
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 12:33:58 -0600
Subject: TEL letters to his brother Bob

I have a record of only two letters. Both are in The Home Letters of T.E. Lawrence and his Brothers.

  • August 21 (1906) p.24 also in Garnett p.46
  • September 12 (1912) p.230

I think you'll find the opening sentences of the 1912 letter to be interesting. Was he kidding or serious?

The originals of both are in the Bodleian Reserve collection.

0076) From: St.John Armitage, UK
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 18:50:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Bob Lawrence

I think that I sent Harold Orlans info on Landick, with whose brother I have corresponded, via the Whittier List earlier this year.

The French parents-in-law of the late Stanhope Landick of Jersey had a friend, Charlotte Sneegans of Cahors, whose connection with the Lawrence family began after a letter from Lawrence in 1934. Lawrence had stayed in Cahors. The Lawrence family knew Jersey from three summer holidays spent there during the boys' childhood.

In 1981 Landick published extracts from about twenty of Bob Lawrence's letters privately for local consumption.


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