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Sunrise breaks in Oxford, England, home of Thomas Edward Lawrence, who came to be known as Lawrence of Arabia. Fascinated with history as a boy, “Ned” roamed the fields and riverbanks behind his home in Oxford, eagerly searching for artifacts from Britain’s age of chivalry. Later the scholar turned soldier fought alongside Arab forces in the Middle East. A hero for our time.

(Text adapted from and photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, “Lawrence of Arabia: A Hero’s Journey,” January 1999, National Geographic magazine)

Two exceptional books on the fascinatingly elusive figure of T.E. Lawrence:

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, T.E. Lawrence

A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of  T. E. Lawrence, John E. Mack

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 11/04/09.

6 Responses to “”

  1. T.E Lawrence is a personal hero of mine. An old hardback copy of his translation of Homer’s Odyssey was the first classical text I ever owned back when I was about 11, and I love it. He had a great interest in medieval pottery, and used to ask the men on the roadworks crews in Oxford to keep potsherds for him when they got dug up,and he’d buy them. Most of the Ashmolean’s medieval pottery collection is thanks to him.After training as a potter/sculptor I went back to uni and I’m now a ceramic archaeologist – T.E and I cross paths quite often these days, as it were.
    He also wrote a favourite academic quote of mine: “I’m re-reading it with a slow, deliberate carelessness.”
    L.

    • Liath,

      I was thrilled to find someone respond to this post (actually two of you did). I have always found T.E. Lawrence to be such a fascinating and mythical character, bt never had the opportunity or inclination to know more. In researching the books, I learned of his translation of the Odyssey and was captivated all over again. The news of his interest and efforts in preserving the Ashmolean medieval pottery collection was a complete and welcome surprise. And thank you for the quote. How perfectly apt. it will appear one day soon on my home page. Thank you so much for enriching this read.

  2. In 2007 we spent the summer in Dinard in Brittany. Dinard is a town that claims two famous Brits as summer residents during Their childhoods. Thomas Edward Lawrence, and Alfred Hitchcock. The rugged Breton coast, with it’s Celtic legacy can stir the imagination.

    • Debra,

      Thank you for commenting on this. I’ve personally not been to Dinard but, like most who travel, I’m always captivated by the ghosts of the famous who have dwelled there before. That’s the wonderful thing about imagination — it can literally transport you to feeling you’re in their company, despite the separation of time. What a colorful heritage Dinard enjoys. It leaves me longing to see the “rugged Breton coast,” you mention.

  3. If you like T.E.’s life, you’ll enjoy this biography of Gertrude Bell, a contemporary and friend of Lawrence. Her groundbreaking, unprecedented travels through the heretofore unexplored-by-the-English Middle East and desert, her knowledge of the Bedouin, the tribal methods, her self-education in Farsi and other middle eastern languages, paved the way for Lawrence, Churchill and the British to create a stronghold in Arabia and elsewhere. The book I read was “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations”. There are others as well.

    • Thank you CG. I will most definitely look into that. Interesting, isn’t it, how throughout history, there was usually a woman there first.

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