T. E. Lawrence to Mrs Thomas Hardy
Dear Mrs. Hardy,
I'm very sorry about that MS. Always I feared that something of the sort might happen to it. Of course Mr. Hardy can't see it as outsiders will. His life matters so much to him, and he is 80: and he resents other people fussing over something of his own which he cannot himself keep. Especially as he has been reticent always. However you still have the other copies, and they are good. The early, formative, life is so beautifully done. The middle-age is not so important, for the novels cover that. I would have liked a documented, intimate study of his old age, since its reality would be worth a great deal to everyone old, or growing old. Only you could hardly detach yourself cruelly enough to write that.
There: it doesn't matter. You have done a most excellent thing.
The Greek Play will escape me. We are very busily flying just now, and I am not feeling energetic, when we do get a day off. The inclination is to lie in the grass and watch its greenness turning slowly into yellow. Lincolnshire has a severe winter, and a severe summer: a county of extremes and suddennesses.
The R.A.F. are sending me to India this autumn: in November probably. Did I tell you? I am not sorry to miss the campaign of publicity in which Cape will try to sell my abridged book next spring: but sorry to be abroad for so long. England is the only place fit to live in.
I've told the Bank to transfer the Lemperly copy to you: and despite your 'maid of all work' I've no doubt that the extra expense will not be crushing to you. For myself I haven't given any libraries any copies, though British Museum and Bodleian wanted them. Somehow they feel dehumanised, those places. Do with the extra book just what you please. I wish it was finished. The colour printer is held up for lack of power to move his presses. It may be August or September before he is finished. Everything else is printed and ready, and I'll send the copies out before I go abroad, whether all the possible pictures are finished or not.
The booksellers confirm to me that it is a good investment. They will pay £50 now for a copy, and it will rise yet further after publication. Why not sell Copy No. II and share the profit with the maid:- of whom I have the pleasantest recollection. Your house, your dog, your servants, are all of them individualities!
What a sprawling silly letter. There are engines roaring through the corrugated iron partition, and people questioning me upon flight business every moment. There goes a rocket. Rain coming, I suppose.
T E S.
|Last revised:||27 January 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