Research and discussion
Page updated May 2012
History of T. E. Lawrence Studies
Like most historians, I set a high value on accurate information. That isn't just a question of academic principle. In practical terms, it reflects the time and money spent finding things out. Therefore, I've often wished that the authors of historical studies would publish not only their conclusions, but also a research guide. The frontiers of knowledge would be rolled back more quickly if less time was wasted looking for information that someone else has already found.
Between 1975 and 1989, I and my research assistants gathered an enormous amount of information for Lawrence of Arabia, the Authorised Biography. More recently, my wife and I have done further research while editing volumes in the T.E. Lawrence Letters series.
In the past, there was no easy or economic way to publish research guides. That changed with the advent of the Internet. Encouraged by Jack Flavell of the Bodleian Library, I set up the Lawrence of Arabia Factfile in 1997-8.
Response was extremely positive, and in 2000 I expanded the site, moving detailed information for researchers to a separate section called T.E. Lawrence Studies.
During 2006 these two sites were amalgamated as T.E. Lawrence Studies, using the URL www.telawrence.info. That year, with helpers, I also began building a new site, containing much of Lawrence's writing that had recently gone out of UK copyright. For practical reasons this had its own URL, www.telawrence.net.
During the next five years I added further sections, some with their own URLs. I also put online a selection of material from the archive of the T.E. Lawrence Studies discussion list.
By 2012 the site consisted of over 6,000 online data-files, spread between two hosting servers and several URLs. There was much that I wished to add, but it was imperative to rationalise the existing material first. Also, it was time to update the site technology.
The straw that broke the camel's back was a European Union directive that affected our use of analytics 'cookies'. Given the way the site had grown, there was no simple way to make the kind of global changes required. The only option was to take down the site and completely rebuild it, preferably on a single URL. The URL I chose was www.telstudies.org - which is the site you are visiting now.
Work in progress
After reassembling the site, I plan to add more material, notably from the million-word archive of the T.E. Lawrence Studies list. Many questions that interest site visitors have been discussed there.
With more helpers I also plan to mark the centenary of the Arab Revolt by posting a large collection of WWI documents.
Appeal for help
You can help. First, I value your comments and suggestions. Secondly, you may know something I don't. Documents and artefacts relating to Lawrence are scattered all over the world. Do you, or a friend, or your university library, own a letter by Lawrence, or a portrait of him, or interesting material relating to him or to one of his close associates? Please let me know. This kind of information can be extremely useful.
We also need people to help transcribe WWI documents about the Arab Revolt. I have photographed the documents, but text in photographs cannot be scanned by a search-engine, so we need some volunteers.
Last but not least, please let me know if you find an error on the site - whether in the text or some problem like a broken link. When reporting an error, please give the URL of the page so that I can locate and correct it quickly.
I am extremely grateful to Jack Flavell, the late Cliff Irwin, Dr Jonathan Mandelbaum, and Peter Metcalfe who helped a great deal in the early years. I must also thank all those who have helped gather the information here. These include the late St. John Armitage, the late Dr Lilith Friedman, Martin Holmes, Vincent Landon, Jonathan Law, Edward Maggs, the late Denis McDonnell, Jonathan Newell, the late Anthony Rota, Martin Rowe, John Vice, Nigel Webb, Richard Westwood, Maria White and Ian Wood. Since 2006 Mary Veres, Derek Norwell and Michael Green have helped me build the 'Writings' section - which also drew heavily on transcripts made during my work on the Authorised Biography. Last but not least, my wife Nicole, our sons Peter and Edward and our daughter Emily have put in many hours' work.
The hosting of the T. E. Lawrence Studies website is paid for by Castle Hill Press, through which we are gradually publishing a scholarly edition of T.E. Lawrence's writings and correspondence.
T. E. Lawrence chronology
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