T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett
[Drigh Road, Karachi]
have today posted (as yesterday I finished) the R.A.F. notes.
They will come to you, round about through the parcel mail, in some ten days; I sent them by an official by-pass, for safety; as there is no copy and the making this long manuscript has hurt my eyes exceedingly. I never want to write a thing again.
The notes eventually worked out at 70,000 words: the Uxbridge part was 50,000: and I added 20,000 on Cranwell, (built up out of contemporary letters and scraps of writing which I'd hoarded against such a need) to redress the uniform darkness of the Depot picture. Cranwell was a happy place.
Will you let me hear of their safe arrival to your hand? If the first receiver does not put on stamps, and you have to pay, let me know that also. I have no English stamps here, and this is a gift to you: a very overdue gift. Was it 1923 I promised you the things? So very sorry.
This afternoon I am going out in the desert with some paraffin and the original draft, to make sure that no variant survives, to trouble me as those two editions of The Seven Pillars do. So before you get it your copy will be unique.
I think they fit their little book very tightly and well. I imagined the final size of them, from the draft, and had de Coverley bind me up the book, in the simplest blue morocco. It is the blue we wear, and you can imagine the tooling is our brass buttons. If I'd thought of it I'd have had six buttons down the front, like me.
Every word has been four times written: the original (bed-made) note: the pencil draft: a typed copy, to give me a clearer view: and then this inked version. So even if you do not like it, you will know that it is not because I have spared the pains to make it worth your acceptance.
I want it offered to Cape, for publication, in extenso, without one word excised or moderated. Can you, as his reader, arrange this? I'd rather no one read it but you (and David G. who feels rather like your second edition, revised and corrected by the author, but less spontaneous); and I want him to refuse it, so as to free me from the clause in his contract of the Revolt in the Desert, tying me to offer him another book. I hate being bound by even an imaginary obligation.
There: it's over. Six months hard correction and copying, all additional to my seven-hour R.A.F. day, and all done in barracks. Surely there should be actuality in its phrasing and feeling?
Note: 'R.A.F. notes' - The Mint
|Last revised:||9 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