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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to the Hon Esmond Harmsworth


[Clouds Hill]

[March 1935]

Dear Mr. Harmsworth,

I am presuming on a brief acquaintance of many years ago to approach you now (as Chairman of the N.P.A.) on a personal matter.

You may have heard that about a month ago I was discharged from the R.A.F. upon completion of my engagement for twelve years with the colours.

I take it this discharge marks the end of the active part of my life. I returned to this cottage, which has been mine for many years, with the intention of settling quietly in retirement.

Unfortunately, the quietude has been a complete failure. Reporters and press photographers have visited the place in some numbers, anxious to photograph it and me, or to ascertain my future intentions. This is a very simple district and their enquiries after me have given my country neighbours only too much to talk about. Their eagerness to find me drove me out: and after I had gone it led them to break the tiles of my roof, split the door and trample all over my patch of land in search of me. I have had to ask the local police to patrol the place, in my absence.

I am writing to you to ask if your association can help to relieve me of some of this attention? I quite realize that many of the visitors are freelances: but even these find their market in the biggest newspapers. It would be a great comfort to me if editors could generally deny me further space.

As I said at the beginning of this letter, my retirement is, I hope, for good. I am not under any further obligation to the Government. I am not looking for any employment. I am not writing, or intending to write, any other books: nor am I ever likely to go abroad again.

I have saved just enough money to keep me by myself in modest idleness, and I am very much looking forward to doing nothing. I think I can promise you never again to earn a paragraph, and if you can do anything to help keep me out of sight I shall be most grateful.

This address will find me always and I am ready to furnish (not for publication) any further information anyone of your members may want.

Note: N.P.A. - Newspaper Proprietors Association.

Source: DG 871-2
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 7 February 2006

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