Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935

Alternative names
Birth 1888-08-16
Death 1935-05-19

Biographical notes:

Lawrence, a British archaeologist, soldier, and writer, was known as Lawrence of Arabia.

From the description of Miscellaneous papers, 1934-1937. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122590319

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence miscellaneous papers, 1934-1937., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born Aug. 16, 1888, at Tremadoc, North Wales. His parents, Sir John Chapman and Sarah Junner never married, though they lived as "Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence," for the remainder of their lives. T.E. Lawrence attended City of Oxford High School and Jesus College, where, in 1910, he took first-class honors in history. Lawrence was an archaeologist, scholar, soldier, and writer. He is probably best known, because of David Lean's 1962 film, "Lawrence of Arabia," for his exploits during the Arab Revolt, 1916-1918. He published several works, the most important being Seven pillars of wisdom (1922 and onwards), and an abridged version entitled, Revolt in the desert (1927); also, published after his death, The mint (1936, in a limited edition) and his thesis, Crusader castles (1936-1937). Lawrence never married and he found life difficult being known as Lawrence of Arabia; in 1922 he enlisted in the R.A.F. as John Hume Ross, but the press discovered his identity in 1923. He then changed his name to T.E. Shaw and spent the next 12 years in different armed services at various postings until his retirement in 1935. After suffering a motorcycle accident near his home, Lawrence died of his injuries on May 21, 1935.

From the description of Papers of T.E. Lawrence, 1894-2006 (bulk 1911-2000). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 320460334

Archaeologist, British army officer, author, and adventurer.

From the description of Letter of T. E. Lawrence, 1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71014888

British archaeologist, soldier, author.

From the description of T.E. Lawrence Collection, 1912-1966. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122481802

British military leader, author, and archaeologist.

From the description of Letter, 1922. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122552994

Came to Adams County, Ill. from Westchester County, New York, to settle and to look for land appropriate for Samuel B. Ferris to whom he is writing.

From the description of Letter, March 5, 1842. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 52332777

Lawrence was a English archaeological scholar, military strategist, and author.

From the description of Papers, 1910-1961. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 78228335

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence papers, 1910-1961., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Lieutenant colonel, British army.

From the description of T. E. Lawrence letters, 1924-1937. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754868220

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 1907-1910, 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 1911-1914 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 Faysal. 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. In 1916-1919 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.

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence Collection TXRC98-A3., 1912-1966, (Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)

Biographical/Historical Note

Lieutenant colonel, British army.

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence letters, 1924-1937, (Hoover Institution Archives)

Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was an English archaeologist, soldier, and author whose exploits in the Middle East during the First World War and whose novel, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (1926), earned him the name "Lawrence of Arabia."

Lawrence was born in Tremandoc, Caernavonshire, Wales on August 15, 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner. He attended Jesus College at Oxford University and graduated in 1910. While at Oxford, Lawrence studied archaeology taking particular interest in the Middle East. He first joined the British Army in 1914 as a lieutenant, but by 1917 was promoted to lieutenant colonel. His work with British Intelligence during the First World War earned him the name "Lawrence of Arabia" among his countrymen, as well as the respect and confidence of the Arab people. After the war, Lawrence acted as advisor to the Colonial Office. In 1922, he resigned his post and enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) under the name John Hume Ross. The following year, Lawrence joined the Army Tank Corps and assumed the name T. E. Shaw. He died on May 19, 1935 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash near his home at Clouds Hill, Dorset.

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence Letters, 1925-1935, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Epithet: afterwards Shaw called 'Lawrence of Arabia'

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000496.0x000094

Epithet: Creator of Mss Eur Photo Eur 174

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001347.0x0001cc

The collection of forty-four original letters from T. E. Lawrence to H. S. 'Jim' Ede of Kettlesyard were donated to the Library by Ede in 1964. These letters were published previously in 1942 as Shaw-Ede: T. E. Lawrence's letters to H. S. Ede 1927 - 1935.

From the guide to the T. E. Lawrence Letters, 1927 - 1935, (University of Essex: Albert Sloman Library)


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