Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Dick Knowles
Worthy Down: well, the country about you has great merits, though it is not so different from Dorsetshire. You will find man-life very scruffy and easy after your A.A. service. Grown-ups work less than boys, and enjoy life more.
Winchester used to be a very pleasant place: but it is full of troops and the diseases they bring with them. Not a place to take your ease in, improperly dressed. From Bovington I used to visit it regularly: but always had to keep my overalls on. Rumour out here is that the R.A.F. in England now swank about in raincoats. I hope so.
A.C.I. is not a bad beginning. There is great prejudice among the men against ex-boys of rank. The two classes are so different in tone. The men have enlisted:- which means that they were some way hurt or broken in civy life, to the point of taking flight from it. They all talk of longing to get back: but that is because they have been in the service long enough to forget their previous failure. The ex-boys haven't yet measured themselves against civil standards of existence, and contain a large proportion of the fellows who would have made a success of it. So you mustn't expect the sorts to mix naturally, at first.
Night flying (you are the Virginias, I expect) will be dull and deadly cold, after the first experience: but I'm glad you've struck a flying squadron. In my brief experience, the happy family is the squadron or flight, and the misery of discipline (senseless discipline, I mean) is resident in depots and workshops. Also the flying is a great thing, however dull it may seem to you. People who fly are not the same as people who live on land - if they really fly, with their minds and imaginations, and not merely bodily.
More sermons. Karachi seems to be a sententious place. I go about in fear of this writer's freedom taken with my personality - Robert Graves book on me. He is a good poet, and means most kindly. But heaven preserve me from public-spoken friends. There are to he in the book some pages from Sergt. Pugh. I read these, in typescript - and yelled with laughter which was, for once, happy. It's a picture of a saint, in overalls! Such a quaint saint, too.
1930: March, April or May: and there will be a loud shivering on the quay-side of Southampton: and calls for a hot bath. That will be heaven. No baths here. I have a tin tub, and a blow lamp, and a two gallon dope-can of water. Cumbersome, but good.
Best of luck,
Matchlesses are not dear, and good. Second hand is better than new, so long as it is last year's model, and not a crash, rebuilt.
|Last revised:||17 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