The Young T. E. Lawrence

The Young T. E. Lawrence

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0393242668

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An intimate biography of the years that turned T. E. Lawrence into Lawrence of Arabia.

Lawrence of Arabia's heroism during the Arab revolt and his disgust at the subsequent betrayal of the Arabs in the postwar negotiations have become the stuff of legend. But T. E. Lawrence’s adventures in the Levant began long before the outbreak of war. This intimate biography is the first to focus on Lawrence in his twenties, the untold story of the awkward archaeologist from Oxford who, on first visiting "The East," fell in love with Arab culture and found his life's mission.

Few people realize that Lawrence’s classic autobiography, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, was not the first book to carry that iconic title. Lawrence himself burned his original draft. Anthony Sattin here uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, and the personal reasons that drove him from student to spy.

Drawing on surviving letters, diaries, and accounts from close confidantes, Sattin brings a biographer’s eye for detail and a travel writer's verve to Lawrence's extraordinary journeys through the region with which his name is forever connected. In a masterful parallel narrative, The Young T. E. Lawrence charts the maturation of the man and the incipient countries he treasured, both coming of age at a time when the world’s foundations were coming undone.

16 pages of illustrations; 3 maps

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stay,’ Lawrence wrote home when news of the gift reached him, and in doing so prepared his parents for a ‘long stay’ as well, ‘waterproofing the roofs with asphalt, cementing floors, getting a couple of tables and chairs and table-cloths and things’.5 When work did restart, there was more than ever to do: two hundred workmen to run, the cleaning and cataloguing of finds, and a crowd of guests to entertain including Dr Altounyan, ‘the best carpet authority in Aleppo’. The doctor had looked over

weren’t very brilliant either.’48 He spent four nights in Aleppo and, although still extremely ill – his last night was one of ‘high fever, great sweating and delirium. Worst night have ever had’49 – he did visit Raphael Fontana and his wife, made enquiries about the camera stolen two years earlier and went to the souks with Haj Wahid to look for antiques and embroideries. The Haj put him on the train to Damascus, with a watermelon. He stayed in Damascus long enough to find an authentic

more thoughtful Turkish politicians and statesmen are regarding the situation in the Balkans’.7 His anxious parents now wrote to suggest he give up field archaeology. Come home, they suggested, and look for a university post. Lawrence knew it would be safer, but it would mean being away from Dahoum and his life in Jerablus, and being home with his mother, with all that that entailed. It would be dull compared to the life he was living. ‘I am afraid no “open fellowship” for me,’ he replied and

Alexandretta, he wrote a more detailed description to Hogarth of moving what he called ‘the spoils’ from the Consulate. ‘A custom-house guard was a spectator, but an unintelligent one’, as he repacked sixteen boxes of antiquities. ‘I had to take them to pieces and repack in Petroleum [Company] boxes: the bronze, the Bull’s head, and the Chariot I packed very carefully. Some of the others I smashed to make things go in.’16 He and Dahoum then had enough time to visit Alexandretta’s souks, where he

War Office was behind the PEF survey. As much has been written about Lawrence’s early work for British intelligence as it has about his sexual preferences, most of which is no more than speculation, occasionally deduction, but always impossible to verify. So it comes as a relief to pinpoint a moment when he does work for the War Office, however indirectly, and with evidence to support the claim. The British government and its many agencies had been making preparations for a war that might

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