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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his mother


Southampton

25 Sept. 1933

Still in Southampton, but please write still to Clouds Hill. No other address will serve henceforward.

I was there yesterday, for the evening, and lit its first fire in the book-room. No smoke, and little smell of smoke upstairs: while the draught seemed plenty. In fact it burned very brightly, and I enjoyed it for the night was wet, like my clothes.

Not much progress in the public works. The ram is not yet satisfactory, but is being improved. The heating apparatus is at last definitely ordered. Upstairs is due for its second anti-wood-worm poisoning, and all stripped bare for the operation. The bath-room is not yet cemented-round, and the bath waits in the garage for the boiler to be first installed.

The book-room is all finished except for its fender, which I have not yet designed. My books fill one of the two shelved walls: the one on which the dishes used to sit. The opposite wall waits with empty shelves. Only a remnant of my books have survived their ten year exile: but all the Kelmscotts are present in good order.

That Odyssey from China, by the way, never arrived! The book-room window has two fixed side-panes, cemented into the stone frame, and a pivoting centre-pane, in a stainless steel frame. That gives enough light and air to suit me. The other furniture is the window-seat, an affair six feet each way, built up of Bob's former bed and a big box-spring mattress: very comfortable and useful. I propose to move Mrs. Hardy's little stool down there, as a table; and the fender will complete it. What used to be the bed-room, upstairs, I am turning into a work-room, to hold a table and papers and ink and food and probably the gramophone and my clothes. That will make the upstairs sitting room big enough to walk about in.

The staircase has been sheathed in oak three-ply: and the Spenser landscape panelled into the gable, quite successfully. With the finishing of the bath-room, I will have the workmen out of it, and the whole house finished, except for what is reserved for my own hands.

The last five months of the autumn were wild with heath-fires. One would have burned me out, but for the fire-bank and the Tank Corps. It has killed many of those promising young firs between me and the sentry-box on the road at the top of the hill. Gallows Hill is utterly laid waste, and whole miles of heath and wood between Wool and Wareham. As for the New Forest, not for 40 years has so much been damaged. However the late rains have stopped all fear.

I have asked Mrs. Knowles to take all the border plants she can, as my wall-footing operations in the next stage of repair will interfere with them.

You ask me again to get your bank to send you the £80 quarterly: so I shall tell them to do it. As I have explained very many times, they have good technical reasons against it!

N.

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Source: HL 379-80
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 14 February 2006

 



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