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Lawrence of Arabia in 1919: ‘By the way I’m not a Colonel now!’

Autograph Letter, signed (“T E Lawrence”), to Mr. J. L. Garvin, editor of the Observer, agreeing to talk about the Middle East but declining to write for him.

London: November 18, 1919.

Price: $11,500.00

About the item

Two pages on a bifolium. 1 vols. 8vo. Lawrence of Arabia in 1919: ‘By the way I’m not a Colonel now!’. Old folds, some soiling, two tiny patches of thinning (from old adhesion?) on first page, a minute strip of cellotape on verso, not affecting signature page. Good plus.

Item #366927

Lawrence of Arabia, at the height of his acclaim and celebrity in Britain, treads a careful line in his response to a letter from editor James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), editor of the Observer newspaper and a leading spokesman for the Conservative party:

“I'd be delighted to talk to you personally about the Middle East: (which looks a sad tangle, because our focus is wrong: all's very well, really): only I can't write, either now or in the future about it, since most of my views are based on official information, and it wouldn't do to give it away. I know I’m supposed to have written upon it, but actually all I did was one short letter to the Times (not controversial) and that was by request”

He expresses his willingness to meet with the editor, subject to these reservations, and concludes, “Yours sincerely, T E Lawrence, By the way I’m not a Colonel now!”

A choice letter, right around the time that Lawrence lost the draft manuscript of Seven Pillars in the Reading train station. Two weeks later he began “to scribble out what I remembered of the first text”; the disenchantment with British policy in the Middle East was still ahead.