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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to James Hanley


Dear 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.

Source: DG 737-738
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 8 January 2006

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