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T. E. Lawrence:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935
Title T. E. Lawrence Collection
Dates: 1912-1966
Extent: 14 boxes (5.83 linear feet), 4 galley folders
Abstract: This collection includes manuscripts and proofs of Lawrence's works, most notably two drafts of The Arab Revolt, as well as correspondence. However, the bulk of the material comprises research about Lawrence. B. H. Liddel Hart's T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and After is well represented, and there is material relating to the controversial Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographial Inquiry by Richard Aldington.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02407
Language: English.
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase and gifts, 1963-1987 (R1615, R1479, R1634, R1364, R2030, R2267, R2693, R3082, R3313, R3732, R4228, R4641, R4721, R4723, R5180, R6625, R7862, G4045)
Processed by: Sally M. Nichols, 1998

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Thomas Edward Lawrence, archaeologist, soldier, and author, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, was born at Tremadoc, North Wales, on August 15, 1888, the second of five sons. His father, Thomas Robert Chapman, and his mother, Sarah Maden, assumed the name of Lawrence. The family was raised in comfort by private means.
Lawrence learned to read at a very early age by observing his older brother being taught to read. At the age of four he read newspapers and books, at six he began the study of Latin, and at eight entered Oxford City High School, which he attended until 1907. He developed an interest in literature, archaeology, and architecture, with an emphasis on the Middle Ages. This led him, as a student at the modern history school of Jesus College, Oxford, which he attended from 1907 to 1910, to choose as his thesis title "The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture--to the End of the XIIth Century," published in 1936 as Crusader Castles. In 1909 he had walked most of the nine hundred miles between Palestine and Syria to study castles.
He obtained 1st Class Honours in Modern History in 1910 and was awarded four years of funding for travel. Between 1911 and 1914 he went on excavating expeditions to various spots in the Middle East, where he lived among Arab people and gained an understanding of their culture, geography, and language, developing a liking for Arabic food and attire. Thus his reputation began to be established as an expert in Arab affairs.
After World War I broke out in 1914, Lawrence obtained a commission in the War Office and was sent as part of the British Intelligence Service to Egypt to work in the Arab Bureau. He became a liaison officer between the British and the Arabs and was advisor to Prince Faisal. The Arabs were in revolt against their Turkish rulers; in support of the Arab opposition, Lawrence organized Arab tribes using guerilla resistance to halt the Turkish advance, finally defeating the Turks and bringing the area south of Aqaba, except for Medina, under Arab-British control. He was subsequently promoted Major in 1917 and to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1918. Lawrence became a national hero in 1919 following a lecture and film by Lowell Thomas on "the uncrowned King of Arabia," which attracted sellout crowds in London for six months.
After the war Lawrence worked to support independence for the Arab states at the Versailles Peace Conference, but was unsuccessful and became disillusioned. He served as adviser to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office on Middle Eastern affairs. It was at this time that he began to write about his adventures in the Middle East which were published in 1935 as Seven Pillars of Wisdom, issued first for subscription in 1926 and published in 1927 in an abridged version entitled Revolt in the Desert.
Lawrence resigned from the Colonial Office in July 1922 and, seeking a life of obscurity, entered the ranks of the Royal Air Force the following month under the assumed name John Hume Ross in order to avoid publicity. He was discharged the following January due to press disclosure of his identity. In 1923 he changed his name to T. E. Shaw which he legally adopted in 1927. From March 1923 to August 1925 he was a private in the Royal Tank Corps. He then rejoined the Royal Air Force where he remained as Aircraftsman Shaw until he retired from the service in February 1935 at the age of forty-six, and returned to live in his cottage, Clouds Hill, at Bovington, Dorset. He was involved in a motorcycle accident near Clouds Hill on May 13, 1935, when he swerved to avoid two boys on bicycles, and died on May 19, 1935.
Other publications by Lawrence include The Wilderness of Zin, an archaeological report on Sinai, co-authored with C. L. Woolley and published in 1915. Between 1916 and 1919 he secretly wrote articles in the Arab Bulletin, published as Secret Dispatches from Arabia in 1939. Lawrence wrote an Introduction to Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles Doughty for a 1921 reprint edition by Jonathan Cape, the first book to be published by that firm. This was a book Lawrence greatly admired and which had a strong influence on his life while in Arabia. In 1932 he published a prose translation of Homer's The Odyssey. In The Mint (which he forbade to be published until 1950), he wrote about his early days in the Royal Air Force. It was published posthumously by Doubleday, Doran in 1936.


Contemporary Authors, v. 115. (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Co., 1985).
Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-1940. (London: Oxford University Press, 1949).
The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, selected and edited by Malcolm Brown. (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1988).
Lawrence of Arabia, Strange Man of Letters; the literary criticism and correspondence of T. E. Lawrence, ed. by Harold Orlans. (Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993).

Scope and Contents

The T. E. Lawrence Collection contains 14 boxes of primarily manuscripts, drafts, and correspondence, covering the years 1912 to 1966. The collection is arranged in four series: I. Works, circa 1920-1935 (1.5 boxes), II. Letters, 1912-1935 (4.5 boxes), III. Recipient, 1922-1934 (1 folder), and IV. Miscellaneous, 1918-1966 (8 boxes). Within the series and subseries the material is arranged alphabetically. This collection was previously accessible only through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
The Works series consists principally of holograph and typescript drafts. Included are a typed manuscript and a holograph with revisions of The Arab Revolt. Also in the collection is a holograph of the Introduction to Charles Doughty's Arabia Deserta, a typed manuscript of The Mint, galley proofs with Lawrence's notes for his translation of Homer's The Odyssey, and notes and page proofs for Seven Pillars of Wisdom (chapters I-VII), along with a proof copy with revisions and cuts.
The Letters series contains chiefly letters Lawrence sent to publishers, printers, and artists concerning his manuscripts. Lawrence wrote to friends about the books or poems he read, and occasionally to the authors themselves. He wrote to friends about his life as an aircraftsman and to fellow aircraftsmen in the Royal Air Force discussing projects. Earlier letters were written about his experiences in Arabia. A very few letters are to friends discussing a luncheon or other social engagements. Significant correspondents include: W. E. G. Beauforte-Greenwood, Sir Sydney Cockerell, George Dunn, Florence Emily Hardy, Eric Kennington, B. H. Liddell Hart, Kenneth Marshall, Stewart Newcombe, Raymond Savage, and Mrs. Clare Sydney Smith.
The very slight Recipient series comprises a single folder of letters from such well-known personalities as: Sir Winston Churchill, James Hanley, Eric Kennington, B. H. Liddell Hart, and George Bernard Shaw.
The Miscellaneous series is the most extensive of the collection. It contains bibliographical notes, proof pages, letters relating to Lawrence's works or to works by others writing about Lawrence, scripts of radio broadcasts on the BBC after Lawrence's death, and other items. Included here is a bound mimeographed copy of Richard Aldington's Lawrence of Arabia and extracts of a typed manuscript of Aldington's T. E. Lawrence: the Legendand the Man. General correspondence relating to Lawrence, the bulk of it after his death and much of it concerning his death, is included along with miscellany such as announcements, checks, maps, receipts, notes to subscribers, drafts, sketches, and production materials.
Material under the heading for B. H. Liddell Hart, author of T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and After (1934), contains the extensive correspondence during the years 1951 to 1960 concerning the controversy surrounding the publication of Richard Aldington's book, Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry. Also present is a section of correspondence for the years 1960-1963 regarding the Lawrence of Arabia film. Interfiled with some 524 letters by Liddell Hart is his incoming correspondence on these two topics, which is considerable as well. Additional material includes galleys for the London Magazine, 1955, a galley proof with revisions of The Strategy of Indirect Approach, typed copies of T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and After with comments and notes by Lawrence, and other copies with revisions and inserts. Included also is a small number of miscellaneous letters and other items.
In addition, there is a section containing the correspondence of John G. Wilson, of J.& E. Bumpus bookstore, concerning the sale and publication of Lawrence's works covering the years 1924 through 1949.
Throughout the correspondence in the collection there are occasionally notes on letters and enclosures from correspondents other than those named on the folders. Such items are indexed and a reference to their location is given in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this inventory. For instance: in the Recipient series, if a letter from John Doe to T. E. Lawrence encloses a letter by Mary Smith, Mary Smith's name would appear in the Index of Correspondents, and the location given as (with Doe, John).

Related Material

Elsewhere in the Center are 64 Vertical File folders and four scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings covering Lawrence's death and his life in general. There are seven boxes of photographs in the Literary File in the Photography Collection. Included in these are photographs of crusader castles taken by Lawrence in France and Syria between 1907-1909, and photographs of the Hejaz Railroad and the Gamuk Valley. The majority are photographs taken by Lawrence during his travels throughout Arabia. In addition, there are photographs by Lowell Thomas of Lawrence in Arabia. Most of the photographs, whether taken by Lawrence, Lowell, or unknown photographers, have descriptive notes on the back in Lawrence's hand.
The Art Collection houses 37 illustrations by Eric Kennington for Seven Pillars of Wisdom (lithographs, original drawings, and woodcuts), portraits of Lawrence by several artists in various media, two busts of Lawrence by Eric Kennington, and a sketchbook by an unknown artist.
The Center's George Bernard Shaw Collection includes Lawrence correspondence and a single page of the galley proof for The Odyssey of Homer.

Index Terms


Aldington, Richard, 1892-1962.
Armitage, Merle, 1893- .
Baring, Maurice, 1874-1945.
Beauforte-Greenwood, W. E. G.
Brophy, John, 1899-1965.
Churchill, Randolph S. (Randolph Spencer), 1911-1968.
Churchill, Winston, Sir, 1874-1965.
Cockerell, Sydney Carlyle, Sir, 1867-1962.
Dunn, George W. M., 1908- .
Ede, H. S. (Harold Stanley), 1895- .
Frere-Reeves, Alexander S., 1892-1984.
Garnett, David, 1892- .
Garnett, Edward, 1868-1937.
Graves, Robert, 1895- .
Hanley, James, 1901- .
Hardy, Florence Emily, 1881-1937.
Kennington, Celandine.
Kennington, Eric, 1888-1960.
Lawrence, Arnold Walter, 1900- .
Liddell Hart, Basil Henry, Sir, 1895-1970.
Marshall, Kenneth W.
Newcombe, Stewart F., 1878-1956.
Sassoon, Siegfried, 1886-1967.
Savage, Raymond, 1888- .
Shaw, George Bernard, 1856-1950.
Smith, Clare Sydney W., Mrs.
Squire, John Collings, Sir, 1884-1958.
Storrs, Ronald, Sir, 1881- .
Walker, Emery, Sir, 1851-1933.
Williamson, Henry, 1895-1977.
Wilson, John Gideon, b. 1876.


Golden Cockerel Press.
Jonathan Cape Ltd.


Arabs--History--20th century.
Archaeologists--Great Britain.
Authors, English--20th century.
Orientalists--Great Britain.
Soldiers--Great Britain.
World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--Middle East.

Document Types

Financial records.
Galley proofs.
Letter books.
Memorial cards.

T. E. Lawrence Collection--Folder List