Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to his family
15 February 1922
S.W. Asia Minor will probably be all in the melting pot in a few weeks: so that's out of the question. Rhodes ought not to be difficult: I don't believe the stories about the pains of going there. That was when they feared the Greeks. The other Greek islands will take you a long time, and you can go about places like Smyrna for the moment: but not shortly, I fancy. Cilicia impossible for English people till we make peace with Kemal. It's possible Curzon may start that trick soon, but it isn't easy to do. There is talk of my going to Paris when he does.
I enclose a letter from Bob. If his job in the interior is cancelled it may change your plans about going out there, in a year's time, and enable you to go this autumn. The idea of a fracture in your wrists is more probable. However it must have mended long ago, and the massage should give you back the use of the muscles. I've made up my mind that I'm too cluttered about with objects, and am going to get rid of them: especially the books and pictures. Would Arnie like any of either? I have nowhere to put them, or will have, when I give up All Souls, a decision to which I have lately come. As far as I can I'm going to get down to the position in which I can carry all I have in my pockets - or at least in my hands.
I'm perfectly well, and very comfortable in Barton Street which is quite beautiful. The quiet of so little a place in the middle of a great mess has to be experienced a thousand times before it is properly felt. I will be very sorry to leave, when I have to leave, but it's altogether too pleasant to be allowed to go on too long. The woman who looks after me isn't old: about thirty, I should think, but she's going to get married next month.
Kennington is back at Porto Fino: and I've written to him. His drawings are now on their way to the Colonial Office, to be hung here for the present.
My own plans are still doubtful. I asked Winston to let me go, and he was not very willing: indeed he didn't want it. I told him I was open to hold on for a little till his first difficulties were over (there are new things happening just now), but not in a formal appointment. Probably I'll get leave on the first of March, and not go back again, unless that Paris idea comes further: or some other odd notion. There was a question of me for Egypt, if Allenby came away: but that of course I wouldn't accept. I don't think ever again to govern anything.
If I get away finally from the Colonial Office about May my plans are to do nothing for a little, and then perhaps to consider the Air Force. Of course I'm too old to join it, but I think that the life and the odd mind (or lack of mind) there, might give me a subject to write about. This long-drawn-out battle over my narrative of the campaigns of Feisal has put an ink fever into me. I find myself always going about trying to fit words to the sights and sounds in the world outside me. However all this remains uncertain, and will remain uncertain for me till I do it. That's a new course I have: of trying to prevent myself making up my mind till afterwards, when the need of action is over.
Let me know what you yourselves do, please, now and then. It's odd you know how impossible it is to be altogether alone. It's the one experience that humanity has never really worked towards: and I'm quite sure that we can only manage it in a crowded place. The difficulty is to keep oneself untouched in a crowd: so many people try to speak to you or touch you: and your like electricity, in that one touch discharges all the virtue you have stored up. However these things don't really matter.
I'm afraid this letter's very scrappy: but I've answered the points in your last as they arose.
|Last revised:||5 February 2006|
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