Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to David Garnett
You will have thought me buried, or burnt: whereas I have only been away for months in Southampton Water, wholly engrossed in tuning and testing new fast motor-boats being designed for the R.A.F. No Easter holiday, no Whitsun: and no near holiday yet, I fear.
The Grasshoppers is however imperative need for a letter. In it you have suddenly broken, I think, into sincerity. The flying is real. For the first time, in all that you have written, I feel a necessity of utterance, a fusion of matter and manner so complete that the manner is almost absorbed. Only one precious word I saw - 'sighed' for the prop-tip - and what a good word!
You told me about the tale long months ago, and it frightened me that one with no sense of the air should touch it. There are so many bad flying books. Then you went flying, and qualified yourself superbly, and this little masterpiece is it. I'm only sorry that he should have had but the one eye and a big tooth, like Hinchcliffe. Probably that is an accident.
The book has pleased me quite beyond what I had thought possible. It is the first account of real flying by a real writer who can really fly: and it gave me a very great sense of long distance, and of the incommunicable cradle-dandling which is a cockpit in flight.
T. E. Shaw.
Note. David Garnett, The Grasshoppers came (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