Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (August 16, 1888 –May 19, 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–1918. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia.
Lawrence was born in Tremadog, Wales. On completing his degree at Jesus College, Oxford in 1910, Lawrence abandoned postgraduate research after he was offered the opportunity to become a practicing archaeologist in the Middle East working at various excavations with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley. In January 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Lawrence was co-opted by the British Army to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research. With his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia, Lawrence was in 1914 posted to Cairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC Middle East.
During the war, Lawrence fought with Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. During the closing years of the war he sought, with mixed success, to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests.
Immediately after the war, Lawrence worked for the Foreign Office, attending the Paris Peace Conference between January and May as a member of Faisal's delegation. He served for much of 1921 as an advisor to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office. In August 1922, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman under the name John Hume Ross, at RAF Uxbridge. He was soon exposed and, in February 1923, was forced out of the RAF. He changed his name to T. E. Shaw and joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1923. He was unhappy there and repeatedly petitioned to rejoin the RAF, which finally readmitted him in August 1925.
Throughout his life, Lawrence was a prolific writer. Lawrence's major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences. In addition to being a memoir of his experiences during the war, certain parts also serve as essays on military strategy, Arabian culture and geography, and other topics.
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Acquisition Note: Source: Gift of Max Kahn. Accession number 1438
Preferred Citation:Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections
Scope and Contents: Newspaper clippings relating to T.E. Lawrence sometimes referred to as T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia) and two postcards showing likenesses of Lawrence by Augustus John now in the Tate Gallery.