Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to A. E. Chambers
It makes a good letter: but god help you if ever you decide to write a book. Your bill for raw paper!
To start Sartor requires courage. To finish it is pretty near folly, to my mind. I don't think Carlyle was quite the best possible (as H.M. was) and I don't think he has much to say to the mind of 1923. Some day people will draw pleasure from him: but not us.
You want to know about Lilith! I once read a mediaeval German philosopher (in Latin) who made her a great figure in the first world: but I forget his name and his book hadn't a name. Look up Lilith in the Encyclopaedia Brit. and see if they refer you to other authorities. The only thing I've ever seen in English about her is Rossetti's poem, and that is more beautiful than informing. I've written to a learned man who lives near a reference library, and he perhaps will reply to the point - but I haven't a book dealing with the lady, and she's so rare an interest that all her books will be even rarer. However patience and hope.
The British Museum allow no books to be taken outside their Reading Room. It's an Act of Parliament says so. For books to borrow and read at home you would have to go, for educational books to the Workers Educational Association, who have a very decent library, and are very decent to deal with... and for more learned books to the London Library. The W.E.A. is run by Albert Mansbridge, a very earnest but excellent man. The L.L. by Dr. Hagbert Write [sic] a scholar with an international reputation. Let me know which you choose and I'll write the proper him a letter smoothing your path.
Yes, it was hard luck that my A.C.IIship should have come upon two such as [name omitted] and [name omitted] conjoined. I bear them a grudge, because I liked B.iii and the R.A.F. and this Army life feels very drab in comparison. Also you know we really were a decent crowd: and the present lot with me are the sort who'd always throw something at any cat they saw. It's a moral difference, I feel, and unless I can get over it I'll find myself solitary again.
The camp is beautifully put - a wide heath, of flint and sand, with pines and oak-trees, and much rhododendron coming slowly into bloom. When the heather flowers in a few weeks there will be enough to please me.
One of my sorrows is the recruits' course (new name, naturally, new age, no previous service) and a consequent imprisonment in the camp for a month, being damnably shouted at.
No there's no book coming out yet. You don't call it selfish of some women to refuse to any man what prostitutes give: and so why should I expose myself for money, or for others' edification? Besides, is it edification? Often I think the book is a pernicious one.
Regard me to B3. My only present likeness to it is another corner bed!
The W.E.A. is in Eccleston Sq. near Victoria. The L.L. in S. James' Square. The L.L. would cost a little.
|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