Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Jock Chambers
I had hoped the new nerves would have reformed your handwriting into legibility. God alone knows how you got into the Post Office with it... or did they mean you for the cryptographic department?
It looks (line one of text) as if your leave was not till April 22. Springtime, and that is merry heaven in the land. The second date may be 31 April or 11th of May: or is May a verb? Lower down, after an illegible passage, you cycle the Watford by-pass daily. That looks as if you were really better, but I shall not believe it till my eyes convince me.
My plans are to leave the R.A.F. early in March, and make my way slowly by road to Clouds Hill. Thenceforward it lies with the Gods what I do.
The cottage will never be less than partly yours, whenever you want it, unless some scurvy married couple borrow it from me again. I don't like women in my place, anyhow; but am too perfect the little gent to refuse them. There have been none threatening as yet this year, however.
It may be wholly yours, if I'm away: it is too far ahead yet to guess. I'm going to try to live there by myself. If I can't afford it, that will be one thing. If I'm bored, that will be another. If I'm plumb scared and go dotty, that will be entirely another. At present all I can say is that I'm going to begin living there, and see.
Your coming will be a delightful change, if I'm there. You know the conditions, so I needn't explain them.
The ram is working strongly, and the cisterns and taps are all full of water; my side and Pat's. The big tank has cracked at its north end, and will have to be undercut and buttressed. I shall get this in hand as soon as the weather permits, so as to have my water ready against the summer fire menace. So perhaps we can fill up by April 22. Or has your long convalescence put you out of love for the agonies of chill water? Civilisation begins with heat (artificial).
I hope you got your books. They were piled ready for post at Christmas: Pat still camps his side of the road. He has an idea of marriage in the offing, and a definite girl in view. If she is a housekeeper by nature, he and she could make a good thing of that spot. But I don't know her views, of him or of country life.
There we are: the only certainty in this world is that the cottage in March, April, May, June, July, August or September will be glad to receive you - and friends, if desired. What about the owner? Ah, I can't prophesy. But if I know that you are coming, it will attract me to get free and come there too. 'Free' supposing that [no] outside entanglements beguile me away from home, which God forbid.
|Last revised:||15 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