THOMAS EDWARD LAWRENCE (1888-1935)
Four autograph letters signed ('T.E. Shaw') to H.W. Bailey, 14 Barton Street, RAF Cattewater and Plymouth, 22 February, 20 March and 23 August 1929 and 10 June 1931, 4 pages, 4to, autograph envelopes.
'THE SEA IS MY JOB NOW' -- A GROUP OF LETTERS WRITTEN WHILE LAWRENCE WAS WORKING ON SEAPLANE TENDERS AND AIR-SEA RESCUE CRAFT AT PLYMOUTH: 'a good place in the summer. May it come early or I'll burst like a frozen gas-pipe'; in one letter proposing a meeting, with their respective motor cycles, 'Brough-Superior v. Austin at Wells, for lunch some Sunday, do you think?', then postponing it on being transferred 'for three weeks Schneider Cup Duty', and in 1931 explaining that he has been 'Testing and tuning fast motorboats ordered by the RAF', and that he has little 'riding time' for his Brough, 'kept carefully and not much used' -- 'The sea is my job now'.
The last letter also refers to having letters from [S.E.] Rolls, the driver of one of the armoured Rolls Royces in the Hejaz Armoured Car Company, and [T.W.] Beaumont, a former gunner whose inadvertent indiscretion was to provoke the press interest in Lawrence's plans for retirement in 1934.
Lawrence had been transferred to RAF Cattewater (later, at his prompting, renamed RAF Mountbatten) early in 1929, and worked on seaplanes until 1935. In August 1929 he and his commanding officer, Sydney Smith, were engaged in making the arrangements for the Royal Aero Club's international Schneider Trophy seaplane race at in September.
Lawrence's love affair with the Brough motor cycle and addiction to riding at speed were famous: in 1926 he had written to George Brough that he had completed 100,000 miles since 1922, on five successive machines, and 'they are the jolliest things on wheels' (J. Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia (1989, p.773). Early in 1929 with help from friends including Charlotte Shaw he acquired a new model at a discount, and Brough later gave him generous trade-in terms. For a photograph of Lawrence on his Brough Superior, see lot 127. (4)