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T. E. Lawrence to C. F. J. Cumberlege

Mount Batten,


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 So might others of my unpublished books.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.

Yours sincerely,

T. E. Shaw

Source: DG 742-3
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 21 January 2006

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