Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Noël Coward
I have read your play (which? why your war one, of course) twice and want to admire you. It's a fine effort, a really fine effort.
You know better than anyone what sort of a play it is; I fancied it hadn't the roots of a great success. You had something far more important to say than usual, and I fancy that in saying it you let the box-office and the stalls go hang. As argument it is first rate. As imagination magnificent: and it does you great honour as a human being. It's for that reason that I liked it so much. Mrs Humphry Ward (before your time) once asked Mathew Arnold (also before your time) why he was not wholly serious. People won't like you better for being quite so serious as you are in this: but it does you honour, as I said, and gave me a thrill to read it.
Incidentally the press-man-magnate-son scene was horrifying. That would 'act', surely? Only most of the rest was far above playing to any gallery.
I think it was very good of you to have done this so plainly and well. I needn't say that it's written with your usual spare exactness and skill. You deny yourself every unnecessary word.
T E Shaw.
No answer. It isn't a letter: I'd wanted to say how much I liked the thing, and failed to say anything worth reading: and so just report progress, gratefully.
Note: Noël Coward, Post-Mortem, a play in eight scenes (London, 1931)
|Last revised:||3 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