T. E. Lawrence Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207270-Lawrence_TE.jpg T. E. Lawrence Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The biographical details of Thomas Edward Lawrence, adventurer, soldier, archaeologist, and writer, are common knowledge, though it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fancy. Born at Tremadoc, North Wales, on August 16, 1888, he lived an unsettled childhood, as his parents—who were not married to each other—moved about between England and France. In 1896 they settled in Oxford, England. There Lawrence attended Oxford High School, where he excelled in English. Interested in local archaeology as a boy, Lawrence continued in that field of study during his undergraduate years at Jesus College, Oxford, from 1907 to 1910. During 1909 he traveled in the Near East, gathering material for his undergraduate thesis, Crusader...

(The entire section is 595 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Military History)

Article abstract: Military significance: From 1916 to 1918, Lawrence led a loose coalition of Arab tribes against the flanks of the Turkish forces in Arabia and Palestine.

During World War I, various tribes in the Middle East rose up against the occupying Turkish (Ottoman) army, then allied with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Initially, the Arabs remained neutral, but the threat to the holy city of Mecca mobilized the tribes. At first, the Arabs were defeated by the better-equipped and superior Ottoman troops, but as Arab resistance increased, the British realized that a guerrilla force behind enemy lines would be of strategic value to the advance on Damascus.

T. E. Lawrence, an inexperienced junior officer with considerable knowledge of the Arab peoples and their land, took command and helped funnel equipment and money to the insurgents. He also helped train and organize an army from various, often hostile, Arab tribes. The exploits of this irregular force proved useful to British military efforts, especially in destroying the Turkish supply lines along the Hejaz Railway that linked Medina with Damascus in 1918.

Lowell Thomas, a Chicago newspaperman covering the war, popularized the story of Lawrence of Arabia through his postwar illustrated speaking tours about his experiences as a correspondent.

Further Reading:

Crawford, Fred D. Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998.

Falls, Cyril, and A. F. Becke, eds. Military Operations in Egypt and Palestine. Vol. 2 in History of the Great War. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1930.

Lawrence, T. E. Revolt in the Desert. New York: Doren, 1927.

Lawrence of Arabia. Fiction feature. Columbia Pictures, 1962.

Thomas, Lowell. With Lawrence in Arabia. New York: Century, 1924.


(Literary Masterpieces, Volume 34)

Homo duplex, the term that Joseph Conrad used to describe himself, more pervasively describes his younger contemporary, T. E. Lawrence. A doubleness informs all aspects of Lawrence: his personal life, his role in the Arab campaign, and his writing. Apparently born into privilege, the son of an Irish aristocrat, Lawrence was in fact without pedigree, the illegitimate product of a permanent union between a lord and his children’s governess. Apparently the triumphant leader of the Arab revolt, who forged a briefly united Arabia from a collection of warring tribes, Lawrence was, in his own estimation, the betrayer of that revolt to the Allied interests and, as much as the Arabs, a victim of that betrayal. The author of one...

(The entire section is 1874 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

James, Lawrence. The Golden Warrior: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Rev. ed. New York: Paragon, 1994. Many aspects of Lawrence’s life remain in dispute, and they are highlighted here.

Lawrence, T. E. T. E. Lawrence: Selected Letters. New York: Norton, 1989.

Mack, John. A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence. Reprint. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998. The most penetrating psychological study.

O’Brien, Philip. T. E. Lawrence: A Bibliography. 2d rev. ed. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2000. A guide to writings by and about Lawrence.

Stang, Charles M., ed. The Waking Dream of T. E. Lawrence: Essays on His Life, Literature, and Legacy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. A wide-ranging collection of essays that explore aspects of Lawrence usually overlooked in the shadow of his legend.

Stewart, Desmond. T. E. Lawrence. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977. A well-researched critical study which has some interesting observations on British intelligence work during World War I. On certain issues, the author has gone beyond British records and consulted German documents as well as some Arabic materials. On some points, Stewart contests Lawrence’s veracity in a most severe fashion.

Tabachnick, Stephen Ely. T. E. Lawrence. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1997. A good survey for the general reader.

Wilson, Jeremy. Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence. London: Heinemann, 1989.

Yardley, Michael. T. E. Lawrence: A Biography. London: Harrap, 1985. This sprightly work is based in part upon newspaper accounts from the period as well as British military and diplomatic archives. The author concludes with an assessment of past writing on his subject and a discussion of the numerous means, including film and drama, through which Lawrence’s exploits have been made a continuing source of fascination for many.