Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to James Hanley
I have owed you a letter for months: it has sat much on my conscience. Here is the Haslett back, anyway. For months I have been in Hythe, near Southampton, testing R.A.F. motor boats and engines. That explains some of the delay, and much of my distraction. When at this job I cease to think about books and writing.
Haslett is good. It lines up with the other short stories of yours, and holds its own with, for example, The Last Voyage. It is not so terrible as your higher tides: nor does it take us any further than the rest. I am pinning my hopes on your new novel, as likely to develop your writing beyond the point reached by Boy and the rest.
By the way Marshall told me that Boy is being reprinted, with the asterisks cut or replaced by words. That is very good. In its cheap form it reads worse (as regards indecency!) than the limited edition. I think it would have gone much better if you had made the cheap edition a new book, rather than a mutilation.
Forster came to Plymouth in October or November, and I let him read all of yours I had by me. He was very struck with the whole achievement: and particularly with the Passion before Death. He asked me to send a letter on for him, writing it after he had gone back to London.
I found Forster a very subtle and helpful critic, over my Seven Pillars. Hardly anybody else (of the dozens of critics who dealt with that or Revolt in the Desert) said anything that wasn't just useless pap. All Forster's notes on books or writing seem to me workmanlike. After all, he writes, and so knows what authors are up against. In himself he is a very witty, pointed, shy, emancipated person. I like him. You should try to run into him in London, on some visit.
I hope your typing is going well. Incidentally, I think I type better than you! I wish I wrote as well.
Hope to return to Plymouth next month.
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