T. E. Lawrence to C. F. J. Cumberlege
Dear Mr. Cumberlege
I am sorry only now to be answering your letter of July 19th. A day or two after your visit to me I was sent to Bridlington to look after some boats, and there I stayed for weeks, working very hard, and right out of the way. No letters were sent on. I was too busy to want them.
So now, returned to Hythe for just two or three days on my way back to Plymouth, my permanent station, I am faced by a huge pile of letters, more than I can probably read and answer. However yours is a business one, and such take precedence.
I feel the force of your plea that an English edition might help B.R.'s recovery of the money he has so generously - and fatally - spent on buying Isham out of the Odyssey translation. If I could agree to an English version that would be the best argument to move me. But I have already given so much. I have allowed it to be put about everywhere that the translation is mine. I have accepted the idea of a cheap edition in the States. I have allowed my name to be tied to this, more or less directly. All these are hateful developments. The only reserved point now is a cheap edition in England. I have promised myself, again and again, that I will never publish another book as long as I live. I had a sickener of publication over the Seven Pillars which will last me as long as I have sense to remember it. If anybody needs money, it is surely myself, earning 3/9 a day with considerable effort and pains: but I would rather starve than earn another penny by any publication. I will not take any part of the proceeds of your cheap edition. You can pay my share - such as it is - to B.R.: but I absolutely resist any idea of an English edition of the Odyssey version, to be published by Milford or any other publisher, and I also object to any batch of sheets or bound volumes coming into this country for re-sale.
I hope that is clear. The more a book sells the worse for everybody concerned in it: and as you say, this version might conceivably sell. So might others of my unpublished books. It takes years - and many successive failures - to work off such a publicity-boom as I have 'enjoyed'. I will live and die in peace.
T. E. Shaw
|Last revised:||21 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