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John Simkin

The Death of Lawrence of Arabia

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Thomas Edward Lawrence, the illegitimate son of Sir Thomas Chapman, an Anglo-Irish baronet, was born in Tremadoc, Wales on 16th August, 1888. Educated at Oxford High School he developed a strong interest in archaeology and military history. An intelligent boy he won a history scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford.

In 1911 Lawrence was recruited by D. G. Hogarth of Ashmolen Museum, to join an archaeological expedition led by Sir Finders Petrie at Carchemish, on the Euphrates. As the dig was closed down during the summer months he used this time to explore the area. It also gave him the opportunity to learn to speak numerous Arab dialects.

On the outbreak of the First World War Lawrence was recruited by army intelligence in North Africa and worked as a junior officer in Egypt. In October 1916 he was sent to meet important Arab leaders such as Faisal ibn Ali and Nuri es-Said in Jiddah. After negotiations it was agreed to help Lawrence to lead an Arab revolt against the Turkish Army.

Lawrence of Arabia, as he became known, carried out raids on the Damascus-Medina Railway. His men also captured the port of Aqaba in July 1917. Sympathetic to Arab nationalism he helped established local government in captured towns such as Dera.

By December, 1917 Edmund Allenby and his army had captured Beersheba, Gaza and Jerusalem. The following year the British Army defeated General Otto Liman von Sanders and the Turkish-German Army in Palestine. Lawrence now joined Allenby's forces and entered Damascus on 1st October, 1918.

Lawrence had been converted to the cause of the Arabs and felt they were betrayed by the treaties agreed at the Paris Peace Conference. He was particularly concerned about the decision to give France control over Syria.

In 1921 Lawrence joined the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office. He also served as special adviser on Arab affairs to Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary (1921-22). Both men visited the Middle East in an attempt to deal with the growing conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine.

After leaving the Colonial Office he changed his name to John Hume Ross and enlisted into the Royal Air Force. After four months reporters from the Daily Express discovered what he had done and he was discharged. In March 1923 he joined the Tank Corps as Private Thomas Shaw but only served until 1925.

His account of the Arab revolt, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was published privately in 1926. Later that year he rejoined the RAF and served for two years on the north-west frontier of India. He continued to write and other books by Lawrence include Revolt in the Desert, The Mint and a new translation of Homer's Odyssey.

In March 1935 Lawrence left the RAF. Two months later he was involved in a serious motor-cycle accident near his home in Dorset. Thomas Edward Lawrence died from his injuries six days later.

After his death rumours circulated that Lawrence had been murdered by foreign agents. Another story emerged that the secret service faked his death so as to allow him to undertake, incognito, important work in the Middle East. The supporters of this story believed he died in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1968.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/IRQlawrence.htm

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I recall reading that the unfinished manuscript of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was stolen (as I recall, it was in a briefcase at an airport),and Lawrence had to rewrite practically the whole thing. A common thief or someone else?

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I recall reading that the unfinished manuscript of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was stolen (as I recall, it was in a briefcase at an airport),and Lawrence had to rewrite practically the whole thing. A common thief or someone else?

From what I remember, the manuscript for The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was left on a bus, and that it might still exist somewhere.

Bill Kelly

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I recall reading that the unfinished manuscript of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was stolen (as I recall, it was in a briefcase at an airport),and Lawrence had to rewrite practically the whole thing. A common thief or someone else?

From what I remember, the manuscript for The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was left on a bus, and that it might still exist somewhere.

Bill Kelly

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Pillars_of_Wisdom

Some Englishmen, of whom Kitchener was chief, believed that a rebellion of Arabs against Turks would enable England, while fighting Germany, simultaneously to defeat Turkey.

Their knowledge of the nature and power and country of the Arabic-speaking peoples made them think that the issue of such a rebellion would be happy: and indicated its character and method.

So they allowed it to begin...

– Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Introduction

Lawrence kept extensive notes throughout the course of his involvement in the Revolt. He began work on a clean narrative in the first half of 1919 while in Paris for thePeace Conference and, later that summer, while back in Egypt. By December 1919 he had a fair draft of most of the ten books that make up the Seven Pillars of Wisdom but lost it (except for the introduction and final two books) when he misplaced his briefcase while changing trains at Reading railway station.[2]

National newspapers alerted the public to the loss of the "hero's manuscript", but to no avail; the draft remained lost. Lawrence refers to this version as "Text I" and says that had it been published, it would have been some 250,000 words in length.

In early 1920, Lawrence set about the daunting task of rewriting as much as he could remember of the first version. Working from memory alone (he had destroyed his wartime notes upon completion of the corresponding parts of Text I), he was able to complete this "Text II", 400,000 words long, in three months. Lawrence described this version as "hopelessly bad" in literary terms, but historically it was "substantially complete and accurate".

Of course nobody would trash a briefcase, and there exists the possibility that someone picked up the briefcase and it has been kept closited all these years and will remain closited until someone comes along and discovers it and recognizes what it is.

BK

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