Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to John Buchan
Your letter about my not writing a life of Alexander has been reproaching me for so long that I must pluck up courage to answer and forget it.
I don't think I am ever likely to write anything of my own again. They pay me for translating things, and that's exercise enough with words to allay and more than allay any remaining itch I may have to write. As for saying anything of my own, there is nothing in the box: not an idea or wish or dissatisfaction or resentment. You have in me a contented being, and no literature rises out of contentment.
Half the books I pick up, now a days, seem to have no due raison-d'être: one does not feel that the author would have burst if he had not got it out. And that discourages me, for I would like my work, if any, to feel like that.
So I think I'm better off just as an airman, and am lucky to find interests enough in the service to occupy all my time and remaining energy. 1935 is the end of my term, and after it I shall feel very lost.
I hope you are better than you were when I saw you in London a year or two ago: and I hope you are finding some sort of a game, in politics or business, to play with interest. Most people I meet aren't happy; for lack of absorption, I think.
T E Shaw.
|Last revised:||8 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