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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Mrs Rieder

Nov. 9

Dear Mrs. Rieder

I walked up and down the Strand and Oxford St. yesterday thinking out a few suitable biographies for Noël's amusement, until the police grew suspicious, and the news-boys irreverent: the result is nothing: not even a mouse.

Don't give up hope:- there is always a brother or two to fall back upon. Tomorrow I will consult Arnie (who has read most things) and give Noël the result of his wisdom and experience. It is so hard to go back a quarter of a century, and put oneself in his place.

Meanwhile I send Puck, just so that it will not appear a total defeat. If you have it (as I suspect) pass it on to someone English, if there is any one English near you. It is very wrong to give it to Americans or to half-and-halves (here halve is the fem. of half ...) Now I must consider if there is anything else in your letter.

Miss Holmes' niece (I cannot decipher her name, possibly because your pen was a bad one) will wait: that is, I'll hope to have the pleasure of meeting her when I reach you. Assure her, if its good manners that this is what I look forward to most in this year's trip in Syria. Please assure Miss F. and Miss A. the same - and tell Miss Holmes she is on a different footing.

That's all I owe to conventional politeness this time.

A. To get on again:- I think you are wise to wait for Dawn in Britain till you reach a library. I do, so it must be the best way.

B. Iliad: Yes, Lang-Leaf-Myers: not good, but the best I know. Will get it in Oxford.

C. Biographies: as above; a very good way to learn history. But Noël's rather small: or he was when I saw him last.

D. Metternich shall come: it will be very suitable for all parties, being meant for the upper forms in public schools.

E. Those few books wouldn't last me a week: though I don't make a habit of getting up in the dark. A clock is an artificial contrivance, and to regulate oneself by it is to run after one's own tail.

F. I must remember to look at you reading: it sounds an interesting performance.

G. I certainly prefer poetry: though prose, in type, makes a neater, blacker page.

H. I have just made a convert to Doughty by way of Adam Cast Forth. He is white hot, and I had to run from him. Seems to know it by heart. However I'll tell Doughty next week what you think of him.

J. There are many things to discuss: e.g. H.G.C.A. above.

K. Morris writes admirable prose - but better verse.

L. I was disappointed with Gulliver, till I got to the Houhynyms (?). They were fun.

M. Marie-Claire I don't class with Doughty.

N. I never discuss business: it's not worth the time and trouble.

O. Have now another Adam.

P. The press doesn't: type not yet ready.

Q. This is the end: Spelling Reform query will answer later.


There's a wonderful lot in this letter: the style is too compressed for elegance. Your letter will act as a key.

Note: Mrs Rieder was American by birth. Noël Rieder was then 6.


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Source: DG 123-5
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 29 January 2006


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