T. E. Lawrence to F.N. Doubleday
I have done ten days
solid duty in camp, and am again free to go out: only instead of that I
write you a line, to recall that very golden day we had. Do you know, It
was all exquisite? Kingswood, Kipling, Knole, Ashdown Forest, the lunch.
Years since I drove, lordly, in a pleasure car: the R.A.F. has its
transport, of course, but that is hardly driving. The leisure of our
progress along the roads, and the warmth and good talk inside the car
all left a happy feeling. It was a great, exceptional day: and as it
gets more distant I perceive my debt to you an increasing one. You is
plural. Mrs. Doubleday at last loses the distinction of a postscript.
She made half the pleasure of that trip. I hope that you and she also
still enjoy it.
Of course it isn't so rare a pleasure, for you. You (and she) would have to join the Air Force to squeeze all the flavour out of luxury. Only when one person is as happy as I was, the other two must have felt some sunshine.
The R.A.F. here appears to value my services. At least I work all day at its jobs. Just I have half an hour in the morning, before breakfast, which I keep for my own reading. I make the half-hour, by getting up before reveille. One can't read in odd half-hours: reading is to soak oneself hour after hour all day in a single real book, until the book is realler than one's chair of world: but I've done most the The Brook Kerith in these half-hours: and tasted the Heinemann life (only half-kind to him, that book is. It feels as though the poor little man hadn't been properly understood) and read all Enid Bagnold's Happy Foreigner. That last is surprisingly distinguished. I give her full marks for a good book.
Frere-Reeve wrote to me, two excellent letters, about good printing. I shall go to see him, when, or if, I get leave in October. I have a design of sliding down some odd day (Dear, it will be an odd day!) if he permits it, and I achieve it, with Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Shaw to look at Kingswood. You would like Mrs. Shaw. She is quaint and comfortable, and fresh, and kind. G.B.S. is exciting, per contra. Together they are like bacon and eggs, and harmony in blue and silver. I fear I talk nonsense.
Do go on writing your memoirs. Put in that story about the roses pinned to the pickets. Dictate quite a lot, for then that dry sparkle will cling to the words. Pens are stiff things to hold, and they make our words too mannered.
Not to spoil the pleasure ship with work I put a business request on a spare sheet. Remember me very much to Mrs. Doubleday. Tell her to start imagining another excursion for next time. If its only 1/10 as good as that it'll be good enough.
I've had twinges of conscience, since that perhaps I tempted you to overdo things that day. I am so indecently fit and durable. I hope you were not ill or tired, even.
|Last revised:||31 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