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T. E. Lawrence to his mother



There, I have sorted out, in the last three days, my recent letters. There are 132 business letters which I must answer: 26 letters from people I once used to feel with, and whose friendliness has gone on past our separation. I would like to drop them, but am too soft-hearted: and I have thrown away two boxes-full of stuff that did not matter.

My average mail is 20 letters a week: of which perhaps six or seven are of no importance. That just balances my maximum reply-capacity. I can afford two rupees (3/-) for stamps every week, and the little extra which envelopes and paper cost. So if everybody ceased writing to me from today I could be free of back-correspondence in ten weeks at 16 letters a week. Letters take on the average 3/4 of an hour each, if you add in the getting pens and ink out of my box, and the job of getting them to the post office. So for 12 hours a week (2 a day) for the next ten weeks would see me quit. Only each week there arrive more letters than I can answer. So the problem remains impossible. Also I refuse to waste all my leisure on letter-writing. The letters bore the people who get them as much as their letters bore me, I suppose. Who invented this curse?

I think I shall print a small card 'to announce cessation of correspondence' and send it to the 300 or 400 of my regular addresses. After that I shall write not more than one letter per week, and take a holiday once a quarter.

All of which nonsense has well filled these pages, and conceals the fact that nothing has happened here since I wrote to you last. All well. Hope Bob's better, and settling down.


Source: HL 372
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 12 February 2006

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