THOMAS EDWARD LAWRENCE (1888-1935)
Autograph letter signed (with initials, 'T.E.S.'), Ozone Hotel, Bridlington, Yorkshire, 23 November 1934, 2 pages, 4to, autograph envelope (small tape repairs in central horizontal fold of letter).
A ROBUST REACTION TO UNWELCOME PUBLICITY: 'Good Lord No! One doesn't answer this sort of thing. Bray is quite an honest muddle-headed sort of chap, who believed everything he wrote ... Next best thing for a public man, after being praised, is to be loudly abused. It pays. Only I don't want notice, and the only way to gain quiet is to be quiet'.
'I've been absurdly over-praised by Lowell Thomas, Graves and Liddell Hart: praised for all sorts of accidents as if I had intended them, and praised for leaving undone things that I simply hadn't the power to do. I think we all worked like beavers, and did the best we could...'
Statements about Lawrence's part in the Arab Revolt and his motives had been made by Major N.N. Bray, who had visited the Hejaz with an Indian Army mission, in his book Shifting Sands (1934), and Lawrence's friend and biographer Basil Liddell Hart had corrected them in interviews with a Sunday newspaper. The last months of Lawrence's R.A.F. service and the first weeks of his retirement were to be marked by outbreaks of press intrusion and speculation about his plans and even, triggered by the biography, concerning his family background. Although he had collaborated with Liddell Hart he consistently complained of the lack of any criticism in the book.
Lawrence was at Bridlington to carry out his last task for the Air Force, supervising the repair of fast launches, 'a big job [which] will probably last till March, when my Air Force time is up'. The R.A.F. had the use of a small hotel there for the winter, and in anticipation of his reduced income Lawrence had invested in a pedal cycle: 'I shall have all the year to myself, and we'll meet. A push-bike, I expect, unless George Brough does the handsome by me again'.
Together with: T.E. LAWRENCE. The Letters, edited by David Garnett. London: Jonathan Cape, 1938. 8° (230 x 155mm). Portrait frontispiece, plates and maps. (One map frayed at fore-edge.) Original brown cloth, spine gilt (extremities rubbed). Provenance: printed presentation slip on front free endpaper 'With Compliments of the Lawrence Trustees [typewritten insertion] from Jonathan Cape' -- 'Herbert Wilson Bailey 71 Ashley Rd Bristol' (inscription). This letter to Bailey is included in The Letters as no. 542, with a few typographic inaccuracies and the statement '[3 lines omitted]'; in fact, the last two paragraphs of the letter, comprising some 12 lines, are not included. (2)