T. E. Lawrence to Edward Garnett
Trenchard seems to have feared that I meant to publish the book, or that you could. I have written and wired to him that you can't, and I won't. So I hope that will make it well. I like Trenchard, to an unlimited degree, and admire him: and wouldn't hurt him for anything. All service men think printing ink is a sort of devil or dragon, threatening them. Trenchard will also be terrified of yourself, as a pen-man. Are not pens mightier than swords? R.A.F. officers carry a little silver-gilt sword, but only in full dress. They fly quite unarmed.
I have told him that in my life-time nothing of The Mint will be published: and that I have asked my brother (who is my heir) to with-hold it till at least 1950. That should see us all off the stage.
Eddy Marsh's letter made me laugh. He was called in naturally by Trenchard, for Eddy has a great political reputation as a literary leader. They feel, that he, if anyone, can tame the rages of these incalculable creatures and make them safe. Marsh you know of course.... I've found him sincere always: and he serves Winston with all his might. Also he is uncommonly kind-hearted, and unofficial, after nearly 30 years in the Civil Service. So he is made of tough stuff, somewhere: though I agree his appearance and manners disguise his material.
Trenchard you will heartily enjoy. He can't write: he can't speak: but he is a very great man. Incidentally he is the R.A.F.
Your bronchitis must have been bad. I know you've had it before, by your own telling: but I didn't know that it kept people a fortnight in bed. My idea was a sort of cold in the head, with a stifled voice and inactivity, as its effects. Apparently it is worse. Once it's better is it done with? or is it only a symptom of chest-trouble? I mean, are you better now? or do you have to take care always? It is alarming how ill lots of people I know have been. Hogarth gone, and Hardy: G.B.S. and Mrs. Shaw both ill. Mrs. Wells gone: and lots of the non-public figures, who are my special pleasure. Eighteen months, it is, since I came away. At this rate England in 1930 will be a very strange country to me.
I sent you a wire, asking you to lend the M.S. of The Mint, only. In your letter you say you will have 'typescripts' made. This I regret. I'd prefer it to be only in the single copy. Safer so, against dissemination. Also my handwriting is more difficult, in its first 50 pages, than usual: and so the M.S. protects itself against the idly curious. Do not send me a copy of the typescript, any way. Post one, if there is a spare, to my brother (8 Talbot Road, N.W.6. I think he is. A.W. Lawrence he calls himself) its owner some day, if he goes on living and I don't. Lock the other away in some safe. Please do not let people talk of it, as a book. I shall declare that there isn't one, if anybody publishes a story about it: which might embarrass the tale-teller. Just read it, and like it, if you can, and then shove it in your book-shelf, and forget it. Garnett III will realise on it, a decent but not-Lewis-Carollish increment, some day.
I've suggested to Faber (of F. & Gwyer) that he looks at the Fontana script. F. is an old man, very queer: a natural scholar: he hasn't much of the pride of authorship: wants his name kept out of it: and is modestly prepared to re-write and adapt. It struck me (the two chapters I read were more of an earthquake in a wooden court-house, and of the Moharram blood-ceremony in Constantinople) as quite extra distinguished. As for selling:- if Revolt sold, and Horn, and the Skeikh, what won't!
I'm so glad the Poor Man's House has got into the Travellers Library: Cape must add Alongshore, and The Holy Mountain, and some Crane (Jenny is right out of print, and unprocurable). The airmen here have adopted the Travellers Library as a hobby. Many of them buy one a week, just for fun. It is an uncommonly good series. I recommend a novel of Henry Baerlein, about the Children's Crusade: don't know its name. Very good stuff. And why not do Marie Grubbe? Or must they all be English.
My Heart and My Flesh. Admirable, but too anxious: too dry: a little Steinish. Not as wholesomely flesh-like as The Time of Man.
Did I tell you I leave Karachi very soon for some squadron up-country? I'll send you an address when I next have one.
|Last revised:||14 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