Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to John Buchan
This ^ new style portends my discharge from the R.A.F. Tomorrow you and I will be alike in one respect - as old Colonels: neither of us, probably, ever using the rank ourselves, but given it by an ignorant public habitually.
Today I have posted you the typescript (about 60000 words) of my R.A.F. journal. You said I might, in your last letter; but I send it apologetically. Typescripts are messy to read. You are a busy man. The story has more shadow than sunlight in it. Its language is often grossly obscene, for it is the language of the troops. And besides I have a fear that in it I have given away my limitations more bluntly than I would wish.
However, there it is. The fragment is unpublished, and not likely-to-be-published. I suspect it is better writing than my Seven Pillars, and if you could confirm that suspicion, I might be tempted into trying to write something again. Retirement without plan is a rather daunting state, and I am a little frightened of being completely my own master.
If the weather is anyways possible, I shall cycle down in slow stages from here to Dorset, to my cottage. The road passes near Elsefield, and I may, if dry and warmish, call at your house as I pass. You will be in London, or Nice or Perth... no matter. Ahead of me there isn't a single engagement.. after 4 p.m. today!
T E Shaw
|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