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T.E. Lawrence Collection - Wareham Library

T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935), known as 'Lawrence of Arabia' lived in Dorset from 1923 until his fatal motor cycle accident near his cottage known as Clouds Hill, near Moreton. Dorset Library Service's substantial collection of printed works by and about Lawrence is held at Wareham Library.

Wareham is close to the Dorset places associated with Lawrence, and St Martin's Church in the town contains the beautiful memorial effigy of him by Eric Kennington.

After leaving Oxford University, Lawrence joined Sir Flinders Petrie's archaeological team at Carchemish in Mesopotamia, and his early writings were on these excavations. "Crusader Castles", published in 1936 after his death, was his university thesis which earned him a first class honours degree in 1910.

During World War I Lawrence was British liaison officer to the Arab Revolt against Turkish occupation. His account of the Arab Revolt and the part he played in it, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" has become a classic of war literature. After the war he attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1918 and was appointed political adviser to the Middle Eastern Department of the Colonial Office to further the cause of Arab independence. To escape the fame which followed the publication of his books and the American journalist Lowell Thomas' account of his exploits "With Lawrence in Arabia" (1925) he enlisted in the Army and later in the Royal Air Force under assumed names. His final years in the RAF were spent developing rescue and target powerboats, before his retirement in 1935.

The Collection reflects Lawrence's reputation as a controversial genius. It includes his critically acclaimed translation of "The Odyssey of Homer" and his account of his time in the RAF in "The Mint". His letters to his biographers, his family and his many famous friends, including Thomas and Florence Hardy have been published, and there are numerous biographies, some discrediting his achievements and others eulogising them.

A large collection of journal and newspaper cuttings gives additional information on aspects of this most enigmatic but fascinating personality of the 20th Century.

A T.E. Lawrence 'Lawrence of Arabia' collection is housed at Wareham Library and can be viewed by appointment.  A catalogue of this collection is available for reference at Dorchester and Wareham local studies collection.

Photograph by kind permission of Dorset County Museum (opens in a new window).

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