Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to B. E. Leeson
One sentence near the beginning of your letter made me shed tears: for it seems you have written vainly to me in the past: but the next sentence made me shout with joy, for you announced that now 'with the assistance of the Press' you had at last definitely located me.
NO SUCH LUCK! When the Press let itself go in that hideous fashion the Air Ministry said 'Quite impossible to permit an A.C.2 to have such publicity.' I was meek and said I didn't really want it: they might have it if they could get it. In reply they slung me out. Since then I've been in very low water (did you understand that I enlisted not to write books, but because I was broke?) and am not yet quite in the deep stuff, though three Govt. Departments exhaust themselves trying to find me a billet.... I turn down all their ideas, and ask for something poorer, and they think I mean richer. Soon they will burst themselves. You see I'm fed up with being called Colonel in this ridiculous year 1923: and am determined not any more to be respectable. Besides I liked being an A.C.2. and would like to be something of the sort in future: However, they won't have me back, so that hope is vain.
I never got any previous letter from you, or don't remember any, though I'm a bad letter-writer. This present effort of yours came to me via Trenchard, who seems to be my post-office. He's a very great man, and has never cursed me for bothering him so horribly. I gather that I nearly wrecked the Air Force. It was one of the beastly officers who gave me away. [10 lines about officers in the Arab Revolt omitted]
I go, when my dress clothes are out of pawn, to the G.H.Q. dinner, with Allenby and Staff. It's frightfully solemn.
No news of Williams!
I'm glad you are alive, and hope that it's more than just alive. There is nothing so repulsive as working merely for a living - only things are so bad just now that many people are doing that in despair. I refuse to do it, and have never actually died in consequence: but shall soon if something doesn't turn up.
You see news in the Press every six months or so (or I do) that my book on the Arab Revolt is either lost, or just about to be published. Actually I printed a few copies of it nearly three years ago, and there it rests. I wrote all my heart out, and so it's rather intimate and indiscreet. It contains only my adventures, so that a certain car adventure up W. Hamdh didn't figure. I turned out my notes of those three days a while ago. How we stuck! After you left us the Arab Adventure got rather too black and heavy and the gaiety died out: while the end of it left a nasty taste in my mouth. Hence partly my disgust for my war personality! So please pardon a change of name.
J. H. Ross
|Last revised:||19 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