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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


Jan. 24 1911

Letters from Father, including Mother's copy of Richards' huge letter. The post comes in one night, late, and have to be answered by next morning at 7 a.m. This means that there is not much time for consideration. However:- Richards and I work together of course, and approve what each does for the other. If we are to preserve the utmost elasticity in our relations, we cannot be bound by a written agreement. We must (if such agreement exists) inevitably go outside and beyond it whenever we feel inclined: so that there will always be a contradiction between our theory and our practice. At the same time perhaps an agreement might be useful (especially in the case of one of us dying or retiring): the unfortunate dispute over the Morris firm's reconstruction makes one afraid of one's constancy, so that it might be better for this reason if the agreement gave all things to one of us. By that means the other would have no possible ground of public complaint in case of a rupture:- and while we are agreed formal arrangements are only foolish:- Then further I would feel uncomfortable if we held equal shares, for after all it is Richards' energy and inspiration and design. My part will have been only to have furnished the money. To rate this as important would be to stultify our ideals in the outset. As far as I can see therefore all legal documents (leases and deeds and the rest) should be in Richards' name only: the money (if you are able to provide it) should be a loan to me, unconditionally, or as you please: and it should go (in theory only) from me to Richards independently. You can, I think, quite properly lend me money as an advance on my demyship, while to send it to Richards direct would leave you in about the position of a mortgagee. The matter is one for you to settle: it is purely a money matter, and I know nothing about such things. In any case I would not like a clause giving me possession on one year's notice: say 7 to 10 years to Richards, and 6 months or a year to others: but the house would be better entirely in his hands, save for my having the refusal of it if he should clear out or die. You might encourage him to make a will, somewhat in this direction: so long as he does not run into lawyers, and their bills.

Let the occupier of the house always have the duty of repairs and the right of alteration. The place is being put up as much of my use as for his: so that it is not a normal transaction. He is spending it as I hoped and intended he would, on a cause which we both have rather at heart. If the attempt succeeds one can hardly question the wisdom of the undertaking, and the matter of the furnishing of the money will look a little trivial. If it fails (and I think it will not, with the new copper-wire idea) then I will probably occupy the house, if (or until) Richards' home affairs come to a head. The thing to do before that is to take away materials for any possible dispute: and that I cannot help feeling is for me not to appear anywhere in writing. The rest is left to your judgment: please do not tie us up too much. Richards knows (or has forgotten) that the demyship is held for four years, if Magdalen is satisfied with my movement. As the conditions side with my inclinations it should be a fairly safe consideration. There cannot be any fixed hours of work. We both feel (at present) that printing is the best thing we can do, if we do it the best we can. That means, though, (as it is an art), that it will be done only when we feel inclined. Very likely sometimes for long periods I will not touch the press at all. Richards, whose other interests are less militant, will probably do the bulk of the work. The losses (if any) will be borne by us both, according as we are in funds (we will approximate to a common purse): the profits will be seized upon as a glorious opportunity to reduce prices. You will see, I think, that printing is not a business but a craft. We cannot sit down to it for so many hours a day, any more than one could paint a picture on that system. And besides such a scheme would be almost sure to interrupt The Seven Pillars of Wisdom or my monumental work on the Crusades.

If you think fit you might send this letter to Richards. It will give him my point of view about the matter more fully than before, and besides the last sentence is meant especially for his instruction. He wrote to me for present expenses, which is why I asked you to send him £30. He will not need my pressing to be economical. I cannot send away all the demyship, and if the house costs £250 it will be quite the limit advisable. It will do without fittings very well for a time.

All here is quite right. I will try and write to you by the next post:- on Sunday that is. Tonight it is late.


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Source: HL 129-31
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 8 April 2006


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