T. E. Lawrence to his mother
[14 Barton Street]
This is my last free night in England, and I'm writing to you, very late, in the top of Barton Street, where Baker has let me stay during this month. It should have been leave, preparatory to going overseas: but for me it has been a very hard month of work on that big book of mine. It is not finished: but every copy is at the binders, so that my share is over. All that remains is to send off the copies, and that my printer, Pike, will do for me. Your copy is to be sent to Arnie, at Highgate. I saw him for a few moments a fortnight ago. He seemed flourishing. A. too has written a book: not so exhausting a one as mine.
Getting it over has been a big relief. I have spent £13,000 on it, altogether, and the responsibility of that has been heavy, since my own resources would not meet its liability. I am reckoning on the abridgement which Cape publishes in March next year to bring in enough to cover my deficit.
Thank you for suggesting my leaving the R.A.F. and living quietly somewhere: but I cannot be quiet, and so the bustle and enforced duty of the R.A.F. is good for me. I wish it was not India - an experiment which has lasted too long, and where we are failing - but that is no great matter. The rank and file have nothing to do with politics.
The leaving England is in one way a good thing. I shall be much more alone in India. Here people I used to know will keep on breaking into my peace: and there are newspapers and news and letters, all of which try to drag me back into affairs. Whereas it is my will to stay clear of everything henceforward.
I cannot tell you where I am going. Tomorrow it is to Uxbridge. Our ship should sail on Sunday, from Southampton perhaps. We disembark at Karachi, about a month later: stay a few days or weeks in the Depot there, and then go up country to our final station. When I get to the end of the journey I'll write to Arnie and to you, and tell you my new address. It should be for three years, but may be for five. I hope that Cape's book will be completely forgotten before then.
Your letter of Oct. 26 has just come: only a month on the way. That has been very quick. Perhaps the Wan hsien troubles have not interrupted the mails as much as I thought
There: this is not a cheerful letter. The last four weeks I have been wandering about seeing my time drawing to an end, and so I am not able to settle to anything, or rest myself in anything. Once off, it will be all right.
|Last revised:||9 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