Advertisement

T. E. Lawrence and the Shaws

  • Jonathan Hart

Abstract

On July 22, 1922, T. E. Lawrence wrote to George Bernard Shaw asking him to read a long book he had printed but not published: Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Lawrence’s ambivalent attitude towards his work—he realized its importance but was disgusted by it—comes out in the letter. Lawrence claims “I am not a writer, and successfully passed the age of 30 without having wanted to write anything” (4). But he portrays himself as feeling compelled to have written the book: “I was brought up as a professional historian, which means the worship of original documents. To my astonishment, after peace came I found I was myself the sole person who knew what had happened in Arabia during the war: and the only literate person in the Arab Army. So it became a professional duty to record what happened” (4).1 To some extent, I think it is right to take these words at face value. He did feel, at times, as if his writing were more of a duty than an opportunity. In his correspondence with the Shaws, in his dealings with publishers, and in his choice to turn his back on a fellowship at All Soul’s, Oxford, for a life as an enlisted soldier, Lawrence repeatedly chose a route that was not opportunistic, comfortable, easy, or profitable.

Keywords

Prime Minister Great Book English Letter Tomato Sauce Rare Book 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    T. E. Lawrence, Jeremy and Nicole Wilson, eds., Correspondence with Bernard and Charlotte Shaw 1922–1926 (Fordingbridge: Castle Hill Press, 2000); unless otherwise noted, page numbers in this essay refer to this edition.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T.E. Lawrence (London: Heinemann, 1989), 637–38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Charles M. Stang 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Hart

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations