There was a craving to be famous; and a horror of being known to like to be known. Contempt for my passion for distinction made me refuse every offered honour. I cherished my independence almost as did a Beduin, but my impotence of vision showed me my shape best painted pictures, and the oblique overheard remarks of others best taugh me my created impression. The eagerness to overhear and oversee myself was my assault upon my own inviolate citadel.

Seven Pillar of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence, Wordsworth Editions, [1922]1997, p. 560

[T.E. Lawrence] literary reputation rests on a body of writing which is almost entirely autobiographical. It includes at least 6,000 letters written between 1906 and his death in 1935, and two autobiographical books. The first, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is an account of his service with the Arab Revolt. The second, The Mint, is centred on his experiences as an anonymous recruit in the ranks of the RAF. It was there, to the astonishment and distress of many contemporaries, that he chose to spend his life after 1922. (read more over at T.E. Lawrence Studies)

Below, detail of a famous portrait of T.E. Lawrence taken by Howard Coster (1885-1959) in 1931:

T.E. Lawrence by Howard Coster, 1931(Gelatin silver print, 24.3 x 16.8 cm, as displayed aver at Christie’s website. The same photograph can been seen at the National Portrait Gallery, London).


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