T. E. Lawrence to Robert Graves
338171 AC Shaw
Room 2 ERS
Your cable came, and I answered it the same day, by deferred cable, sending you the word 'yes'. That cost 5 rupees and a half; and I had just six. In happier circumstances you would have received a more literary effort.
Great minds appear to jump together, like spawning frogs. The week before I'd heard from Hogarth of Doran's effort to get a plain life of me written: and I'd sent off a letter to Savage (an agent: my agent) telling him that if Doran couldn't be headed oft; the best person to fulfil his desire was you, if you would agree to accept the commission. There may be money in it: which is my reason for wishing you to get it. From all other points of view I'm sorry. Doran should have had more sense.
As you are doing it for him, you'll have to study his interests first. Write everything you feel inclined, from whatever source it comes, or whatever angle. The time to censor is after the thing is written, not before or during. However, I needn't fear that you will let any scruple or personal motive hinder you. Butter of the Lowell Thomas sort does not keep very well: and its quotation at tenth hand is painfully rancid. Your stuff will be a gratification; only you must, without my help, find the puckers and creases and holes in my armour.
I would like to see your text, if time admits, before it goes to press: preferably in typescript. There are certain things which must not be said. Not that I care, but other people have such odd views. And politically about Arabia, there may be a touch or two which I'd suggest your adding. Your book quite likely won't be just a school-edition: and if so I may try and persuade you to act as vehicle in correcting some mistakes the public have made about the direction of my hopes.
Any questions you want answered I'll answer, either for publication or not for publication, as the case may be.
Don't send me registered letters. Their delivery is subject to great delay, and is always uncertain: for it is carried out by Indian postmen, who accept anybody's signature: whereas ordinary mail is sorted by ourselves, and is safe.
By the way: I believe the U.S.A. copyright of the Seven Pillars is as sure as it can be made. The profits of piracy would be so great that no precautions are really adequate. Doran set up and printed the main text, in New York: and on Dec. 1, 1926, the day of publication in England, registered his edition, and presented the statutory copies to Congress Library. I gave him four copies, to let him have scope for a private flutter: took six myself: and left 10, on sale: the first at 20,000 dollars: the survivors to double, upon the sale of any one. That gives me legal copyright in U.S.A. and I could insist on Doran's supporting my rights by prosecution of any pirate publisher: but a single foreigner, and a poor one, would not be very fortunate perhaps in the State courts.
Good luck to you.
I've just remembered the Air Mail. If you post by that from London it reaches here on a Friday, and I can reply the same Friday evening, thus saving a week on the double journey. Not much: but Doran may push you for time.
|Last revised:||15 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