Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to R. V. Buxton
22. IX. 23.
Glad you are reading the thing. Please don't inhibit yourself from scribbling comments of an insulting sort in the margins, made especially wide for the purpose. Your praise makes my stomach warm: but your criticisms are really helpful: whether in the field of morality, belles-lettres, tactics, or just manners. Down with them while you can!
The 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' is a quotation from Proverbs: it is used as title out of sentiment: for I wrote a youthful indiscretion book, so called, in 1913 and burned it (as immature) in '14 when I enlisted. It recounted adventures in seven type-cities of the East (Cairo, Bagdad, Damascus etc.) and arranged their characters into a descending cadence: a moral symphony. It was a queer book, upon whose difficulties I look back with a not ungrateful wryness: and in memory of it I so named the new book, which will probably be the only one I ever write, and which sums up and exhausts me to the date of 1919.
S.A. was a person, now dead, regard for whom lay beneath my labour for the Arabic peoples. I don't propose to go further into detail thereupon.
Quelle vie qu'on mène ici!
About a private printing. A hundred copies could be plain-printed for £3 each: or 300 copies could be produced, with the fifty or sixty portraits I've bust myself upon, for £10 a copy. My hesitant mind slides between them uncertainly. The dear book would be a wonderful volume, in every sense except the writing. I wish my prose wasn't so academic. There is a literary-priggishness about it which sets an open-aired man's teeth on edge.
Have you read my account of the I.C.C. march? Please say honestly what parts of it, or of its tone, hurt your feelings. I was wrapped up in my burden in Arabia, and say things only through its distorting prism: and so did third parties wrong. It wasn't meant: just the inevitable distraction of a commander whose spirit was at civil war within himself.
|Last revised:||20 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