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.
|Last revised:||12 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