25 September 2008
THOMAS EDWARD LAWRENCE (1888-1935)
Autograph letter signed ('T.E.S.') to Sydney Cockerell, [Karachi], 27 May 1927, 2 pages, 4to. Provenance: the Spiro Family Collection.
ASTONISHMENT AT THE SALES OF REVOLT IN THE DESERT. The letter opens with mock-jealousy of a bout of flu, 'When we are ill they let us rest, and the fellows who have experience of hospital here all praise it', commenting in passsing on their old mentor C.M. Doughty and the personality and verse of the classical archaeologist [Sir John] Beazley. After an ironising brief history of his gold dagger ('My gold dagger is always turning up in odd places ... It belongs to Lionel Curtis ... It was made in Mecca, in the third little turning to the left off the main bazaar ... But I begin to forget that period'), Lawrence expresses his astonishment at Cockerell's reported sales of Revolt in the Desert: 'Your figure of 22000 for the sale of "Revolt" astonishes me. At 30000 the accumulated royalties will pay off the last of my debt to the Bank. I will then be worth just nothing ...'. The letter closes with 'selfish' hopes that Thomas Hardy will still be alive on Lawrence's return from Karachi: 'I'd like his head to exist for ever, like the head and arms of G.B.S. They are supreme works of art'.
Lawrence sold his gold dagger to Lionel Curtis for £125 in 1923; Curtis later presented it to All Souls. Cockerell was an influential director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and a noted collector of literary friendships.
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