Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Nancy Astor
Dear Lady Astor,
What an undisciplined person you are! I was given positive orders to cease from meeting you, so far as that lay in my power: so I can't come and see you. It would not be fair to the terms on which I have been in the R.A.F. for the last eight years, and on which I hope to serve for five years more.
I haven't got a heart: only the former site of one, with a monument there to say that it has been removed and the area it occupied turned into a public garden, in pursuance of the slum-clearance scheme.
I know, respect and like Tom Jones.
I am duty crew here (one week's engrossment in motor boats on the Sound and Caltewater) so cannot be spared for the Naval Conference. 'Sink the Lot' would be my advice, only alas I have not been asked it!
I was 'taken' to Flete: the Wing Commander promised in my name, and asked so warmly that I couldn't (lacking a heart) say 'No'. It shall not happen again.
I sit very tightly in Camp, working hard to make myself petrol money for next summer's activities. Next summer, I hope to motor-bike and speed-boat and fly a bit: the last if I can get Sir John Salmond (now my lord and master) to relax Trenchard's order against my flying.
I should like to hear Lord Thomson's opinion of my abilities! My opinion of his character hasn't been asked for, but I'm quite willing to hand it on through your 'curious but direct' way if you think it would be wholesome. It is not very kindly.
Alas, I am out of date. I cannot conceive why Lionel should want Geoffrey Dawson to see Malcolm McDonald: or why any of them, backwards or forwards, should want to see another. However cats may look at kings. Only I mustn't look at you. That proves that you aren't a king, and me not a cat. That proves that you aren't a cat and me not a king. I wish I felt as safe, for you, as I do for myself.
You are distinctly unsatisfactory about [name omitted]: please allow Mrs. Shaw, who is as wise as 10,000 of you and me, to look at her and say the right word. I do not trust the judgement of anyone in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
Japanese sunset effect obtainable by underlining the "I" in letters for your enjoyment and necessary inaction please. You will notice that I win by three to one.
|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