Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Bruce Rogers
I was down in London and Southampton (with one night in my cottage - all very well - and a sitting to Augustus John who finished a head of me in oils and did a drawing) while your letter and the play came to Bridlington. So I did not read them till last night, and today I have cabled Yes to you. But I shall not expect it to be accepted. It is too thin for our complicated generations. Her doing it is a compliment to us: to you, me and Homer. Where she quotes, there is a limpid remoteness in the words and I feel them to be beautiful.
No remarks... what could one say. But kangaroo and bombardment both project rather from the background. I doubt alabastos, too: aryballos or alabastron, surely? As for fairway, of course you are right. I saw that beach in Phaeacia, with the building ships on the right, and the drawn-up ships on the shingle to the left, with the crowds moving down the ridge between them. That was why I said fairway, because the comers had to thread the lines of ships. Elsewhere -anywhere except the ships are on the scene - it should be highway, roadway, pathway, causeway, or just way itself.
As I said, it is too simple. We need not dream of any fees from it. If there were, let us respect our joint property in Homer XXVII. I call it yours and mine, always. The script is going back.
Don't be alarmed at my vigour in replying. I am not keeping up a correspondence. It is only that I had to answer about the play: and while at it, I shall go through your whole letter.
Yes, I had gathered something of the mishaps to the Conrad. They say the anchor-cable parted, which should not happen with today's metals. It is very hard luck on Villiers; I hope he is successful with his Insurancers. His salvage experiences have not been happy. I suspect they did most of the damage.
I shall look forward to the promised photograph of the MUG. Likeness - yes, it's desirable in a named ship; but I hope you have kept scale and broad treatment, too. A figure head should grow clearly out of the vessel's lines. How fortunate that Conrad had that streamlined face... or hair on his face, anyhow. What I shall always remember is his lame walk, with the stick to help him, and that sudden upturning of the lined face, with its eager eyes under their membrane of eyelid. They drooped over the eye-socket and the sun shone red through them, as we walked up and down the garden. Put the camera man in a boat under the forefoot, and have a fish's-eye view of the head, please!
The Press sent me the little Odyssey. A good-looking book, great value for six shillings, which I suppose is its present cost. I saw it only for a little while, but thought it to be the same plates as the former Oxford Press edition, not re-set, but smaller-looking. Probably they have trimmed the margins. I continue to feel that we did best in putting the Note by the translator at the end instead of the beginning, in our edition. It is a postscript in spirit, critical: not an introduction, an aperitif. I am glad to hear it is selling somewhat: but it will still be too dear for a school book. Should you meet Finley ever, will you give him my regards and thanks? If you say Victoria Hotel, Damascus, he will smile and remember our meeting in character, him in khaki, me in skirts; but deadly tired, I was: unable to talk, or at least to think before I talked.
No, there will be no Korda movie of me. The rumours grew thick, so I bearded the lion-maker and persuaded him to leave me alone. It would have been more ballyhoo, and after March I want retirement.
I am glad you find New York not too depressed. I find my London men of business growing anxious again about England. Probably 1934 was really a boom year for us. Ah well: provided my nest egg is big enough to bring me 25/- a week, existence at Clouds Hill will be possible. Beyond those rhododendrons the world may have its booms and slumps - provided that I eat.
The binding the Bible has been a long problem. My eyes look at all English materials, now; but so far I have not seen anything comfortable and light and clean and warpless. It is time we invented a new board.
After the 1st of March my only fixed point is Clouds Hill (Moreton, Dorset) where letters will wait for me. I may keep away for a while, if the Press features my discharge: or if I feel restless at too much freedom. It is going to be strange.
When you come, we must try to see something of Dorset together. I shall be learning it, and your eyes will profit my judgement. They all think it a good county, for keeps.
|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