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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to K. W. Marshall



Dear Marshall,

It is certainly awkward, and prolongs the uncertainty. On the other hand, at the Assizes you come before a professional Judge, with a possibility of cultivated judgement.

I cannot advise, for my experience of English Courts, or Law, is nil. G.B.S. is an insecure guide, too, I should say; and besides Mrs. Shaw is desperately ill. She didn't like Boy, however.

My inclination would be to say 'This book was published in 1932 and has been continuously on sale, in England and the Colonies, ever since, passing through four editions. It was never challenged, or described as indecent, till last month at Bury, in Lancashire. Here is a book of all the reviews it has had, in the British Press. You will notice that no reviewer appears to have perceived any moral objection to the subject or the treatment, and I will confess that no such notion had occurred to myself until the Bury Police action. I then examined the book again, and perceived that the challenged passages could be charged with an offensive significance, by a trained mind.'

'While the case has been sub judice I have suspended the further circulation of the book, but in justice to the author (who has written many novels of very high critical reputation) I am hoping that your decision will permit the edition again to be released. Naturally I am willing to do all in my power to prevent further copies being supplied to booksellers in the Bury neighbourhood.'

But in cold fact, you'll be in the hands of your counsel. I should go to Chatto & Windus and ask them for advice, pointing out that the case is likely to react on the future of The Furys - and they will probably tell you who is a likely lawyer to brief. I believe that the actual briefing has to be done by a solicitor.

It is very hard luck. If you can find out who at Bury initiated the prosecution, and send me his name and address, I will try and get him sent from Paris, by post, a regular supply of really indecent literature: something that will show him the difference between pornography and works of art.

Yours ever,


Bitter Water... the middle section, of life on the Baltic or N. German island, was most admirable reading. A real slice-of-life. I agree with O'Flaherty's introduction, that Hauser may or may not be going to be a writer - but that he is a personality, anyhow.

The sea or ship-in-port-and-at-sea passages were not so good, I thought. They were like Hanley-and-truth; a bit anaemic. But a real good book, which I should have been sorry to miss. Extravagant of you to send it me, all the same. I do hope this trouble is surmounted. Let me know at once, please, when any thing happens.


Source: DG 847-8
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 15 January 2005

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