T. E. Lawrence to his mother
That is much better: when we do not write so rapidly, our letters have time to reach their destinations and answer their questions: so that we do not need to repeat everything many times. It is not as though I had much to say. Life with me is much the same, from week to week, or from year to year: in camp at Farnborough, or at Bovington, or at Cranwell, or at Drigh Road. One room is like another, in barracks, and one airman is like another airman. We do not have changes or adventures. We stay still, and are physically taken care of, like stock cattle.
I am glad you thought to leave England for a little. They say, in the papers, that it has been cold there, and wintry. It feels improbable, out here, where the climate is hardly varied from January to January, where it is never hot, and very seldom cold. Karachi seems to have struck the mean of the world's climates, and to exist in a perpetual temperateness of heat and sunshine. Yet it is a dreary place, because the weather is too same to have a character. Too long a succession Of perfect weeks brings monotony.
Italy, you have chosen: and Rome, of all places in Italy. Now I could have understood some little village in the hills. Did you ever read D. H. Lawrence's marvellous novel The Lost Girl... with its pictures of country life, very high up, in Italy? One of the most beautiful of modern stories, told by a master of English prose. You can get a 3/6 edition of it, published by Martin Secker. In such a house as that you might be quiet.
Yes, that sending of the parcel was a pity. I have been much troubled by parcels: the great warm heart of the British and American public seems to yearn over people who write, and they send me incongruous things: so I have my private way of getting the things I ask for: and the Post Office (which in India means the Customs) have my instructions not to notify to me the other things. I do not know what happens to them: perhaps they are sent back as not delivered (but the Stores will have their rules against that, for it would involve them in expense), perhaps they are sold out here to pay Customs charges. Also registered letters are not delivered to me. I found that they were only afflictions. My post is unmanageably great. I have had to make a rule not to spend more than 3/- a week in stamps and stationery, to answer the letters I get: and that means very many letters go without their replies. I cannot answer more than one in three of what I receive, and even what I do write is too much. It taxes my spare time valuelessly: for my opinions and ideas are not useful to anyone else, and it is no pleasure to me to put them on paper. Some day I dream of putting round a little printed card to everyone... 'Many thanks for your letter, which I should have endeavoured to answer, only that I have determined lately to write no more letters that are not of a strictly business character.' It would be a saving of time and tissue... but I am afraid of causing more talk.
|Last revised:||12 ebruary 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