Lawrence of Arabia and Myth-making

This paper was delivered as a public lecture in the Revue Cinema's Reel History series at High Park Public Library, Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto (15 August 2013), in conjunction with a prior showing of David Lean's film, starring Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia. It has not previously been published.


Let's begin our approach to Lawrence of Arabia by remembering a remark from one of Oscar Wilde's most entertaining essays, “The Decay of Lying.”

“People have a careless way of talking about a 'born liar,'” Wilde writes, “just as they talk about a born poet. But in both cases they are wrong. Lying and poetry are arts—arts, as Plato saw, not unconnected with each other—and they require the most careful study....”1 A line from Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest can nudge us in the same direction. “Untruthful! My nephew Algernon?” Lady Bracknell exclaims: “Impossible! He is an Oxonian.”2

Thomas Edward Lawrence, “Lawrence of Arabia,” was a man of immense courage and endurance who suffered inner torment stemming from his illegitimacy (his father gave up his land and his place in the Irish squirearchy when he entered a bigamous relationship with Lawrence's mother), and from his repressed sexuality. Lawrence was a genius and military hero in the eyes of many of his contemporaries, and a writer of remarkable power (though not a poet). But in addition to being an Oxonian, a graduate of Oxford University, he was also an inventive, ambitious, and unscrupulous confabulator. (Richard Aldington, whose 1955 book Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry was the first to expose many of Lawrence's inventions and deceits, printed Lady Bracknell's words on his title-page as an epigraph.)3

I will have things to say about some of Lawrence's deceptions—and perhaps also, since most of you will have seen David Lean's classic 1962 film at the Revue Cinema on Tuesday, one or two of David Lean's. But it may be interesting as well to think about the contexts that helped to shape Lawrence's own myth-making and that of the many people who have contributed to the Lawrence of Arabia legend.

We can take another lead from Oscar Wilde—this time from his remark in “The Decay of Lying” that it is wrong to think Art imitates Nature. On the contrary, Wilde insists, Nature imitates Art:

Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps [...]. To whom, if not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our river [...]? The extraordinary change that has taken place in the climate of London in the past ten years is entirely due to a particular school of Art.4

The same principle, Wilde says, applies to literary fiction and social realities: “Literature always anticipates life.”5

I want to apply Wilde's paradox, in all seriousness, to Lawrence of Arabia. Thanks to his undergraduate study of crusader castles in Syria and Palestine, and his later work as an archaeologist at Carchemish and a cartographer in the Sinai, Lawrence joined the British army in late October 1914 as a staff officer, and rather than being fed into the meat-grinder of the Western front where two of his brothers were killed, was posted as a second lieutenant to the Map Department in Cairo in December. He worked in Cairo for nearly two years—some of the time, by his own account, rather in the mold of the clever, slovenly young man, contemptuous of military hierarchies and hidebound thinking, who was so finely portrayed by Peter O'Toole in Lean's film.

But Lawrence was well enough thought of to be entrusted in the spring of 1916 with a bizarre mission to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). A British (or rather Anglo-Indian) army under General Townshend had invaded Mesopotamia, then part of the Ottoman empire, and nearly reached Baghdad before slumping into disaster. Retreating southward to Kut, Townshend's army was surrounded and besieged there by the Turks, and two British relief expeditions were defeated. Lord Kitchener at the War Office in London thought the Turks corrupt enough that, in the words of one of Lawrence's biographers, “a large well-placed bribe might in some way relax the Turkish army's grip on Kut.”6 Lawrence was sent from Cairo with responsibility for this bribery project, “for which £1,000,000 would be available,”7 and he was also given instructions to contact dissident Arabs, of whom there were many, in southern Iraq. Wyndham Deedes, the intelligence officer who gave Lawrence his orders, wrote to him: “The most important thing of all (at all events when we are getting into touch and buying people and so on) will be cash. As to arms and so on instructions will no doubt be sent you.”8 In the event, Townshend's army surrendered on April 29, 1916, and Kitchener's bribery scheme succeeded only in making good propaganda for the Turks.

Lawrence first visited the Hejaz, that part of western Arabia where in June 1916 (after long negotiations with the British) the Arab revolt had broken out, in October of that year. John Buchan's best-selling spy thriller Greenmantle, whose climax is the Russian capture in February 1916 of the Turkish fortress-city of Erzerum, was published in the same month of October 1916. In that novel the role for which Lawrence subsequently became famous was effectively scripted in advance.

Lawrence himself suggested a connection between his own activities and Buchan's novel. In Seven Pillars of Wisdom he wrote cryptically that it was “for reasons not unconnected with the fall of Erzerum” that the British government had sent him “to see what could be done by indirect means to relieve the beleaguered garrison” at Kut.9 Buchan's Richard Hannay, the protagonist and narrator of Greenmantle, brings about the fall of Erzerum by stealing plans of the fortifications which reveal a crucial point of weakness, and getting them delivered (thanks to the veld-craft of his South African sidekick, the hunting guide Peter Pienaar) through the two armies' lines and into the hands of the Russian Grand Duke Nicholas.10 Lawrence is quoted by Basil Liddell Hart as taking indirect credit for a similar transmission of crucial secrets: “I had put the Grand Duke Nicholas in touch with certain disaffected Arab officers in Erzerum. Did it through the War Office and our Military Attaché in Russia.”11 And in 1927 Robert Graves wrote (with Lawrence's approval) that “As a matter of fact the Erzeroum capture had been 'arranged'—Colonel Buchan's novel Greenmantle has more than a flavour of truth—and the War Office hoped that the same success could be repeated at Kut.”12

If we take Lawrence's word for it, the climactic action of this novel by Buchan, who as an officer in British military intelligence was well-informed about such matters, was imitating Lawrence's striking success as an intelligence officer: art, in the conventional manner, imitates life. But in this case it seems rather that a fiction invented by Lawrence was imitating Buchan's fiction.

Richard Aldington suggests one very good reason for disbelieving Lawrence's claim about Erzerum. He notes that the British military attaché with the Russian army of Grand Duke Nicolas in the Caucasus in 1916 was A. P. Wavell, later a personal friend of Lawrence's (and subsequently a Field Marshal and 1st Earl Wavell). Wavell also wrote the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on this campaign. As Aldington observes,

Wavell's Encyclopaedia article on the Campaign in the Caucasus, strange to say, does not even mention Lawrence and knows nothing about an “arranged surrender.” What he does say is this: “The Russian capture of Erzerum was one of the finest feats of arms of the whole war.... Its capture on February 16th, was mainly the result of a turning movement from the north, [by] the 2nd Turkestan Corps, under Przjevalski, the ablest of its Russian corps commanders on the Caucasus front, who had an intimate knowledge of Erzerum, where he had spent fifteen years as military attaché.”13

It seems General Przjewalski might have been able to form an impression, from his own observations and contacts, of any deficiencies in the fortifications of Erzerum. And Aldington asks, “Is it conceivable that such a soldier as Wavell would describe an 'arranged' surrender 'as one of the finest feats of arms of the whole war'”?14

When I say that Buchan scripted Lawrence of Arabia—that Lawrence's military career (or, rather, the stories about it that he disseminated through his first biographers, the journalist Lowell Thomas, the poet Robert Graves, and the military strategist Basil Liddell Hart, and then through his own writings)15 followed a pattern outlined in Buchan's thriller—I don't mean that we will find close or one-to-one correspondences between that text and Lawrence's feats of arms (whether real or invented).

There may indeed be moments when one might suspect connections between Buchan's novel and Lawrence's memories. In Chapter 6 of Seven Pillars of Wisdom Lawrence wrote, “I had been many years going up and down the Semitic East before the war, learning the manners of the villagers and tribesmen and citizens of Syria and Mesopotamia.”16 Could this perhaps be a reminiscence of what Richard Hannay, in his disguise as a dissident Boer, told German intelligence officers?

I have been for years up and down in Africa—Uganda and the Congo and the Upper Nile. I know the ways of the Kaffir as no Englishman does. We Afrikanders see into the black man's heart....17

I'm inclined to think that these are, more probably, parallel echoes of Satan's remark in the King James translation of Job about “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it,”18 which had since the seventeenth century been a commonplace way of talking about acquiring knowledge of the world through travel.19

More surprisingly, perhaps, Richard Hannay's fellow officer (and consummate orientalist) Sandy Arbuthnot seems to anticipate Lawrence's view of the qualities that made people of the Middle East appropriate objects for the manipulations of British intelligence officers:

The West knows nothing of the true Oriental. It pictures him as lapped in colour and idleness and luxury and gorgeous dreams. But it is all wrong. The Kâf he yearns for is an austere thing. It is the austerity of the East that is its beauty and terror. [....] The Turk and the Arab came out of big spaces, and they have the desire of them in their bones. They settle down and stagnate, and by the by they degenerate into that appalling subtlety which is their ruling passion gone crooked. And then comes a new revelation and a great simplifying. They want to live face to face with God without a screen of ritual and images and priestcraft. They want to prune life of its foolish fringes and get back to the noble bareness of the desert. Remember, it is always the empty desert and the empty sky that cast their spell over them—these, and the hot, strong, antiseptic sunlight which burns up all rot and decay....20

In the third chapter of Seven Pillars of Wisdom Lawrence wrote, in similar terms, that

My Arabs were turning their backs on perfumes and luxuries to choose the things in which mankind had had no share or part.

The Beduin of the desert, born and grown up in it, had embraced with all his soul this nakedness too harsh for volunteers, for the reason, felt but inarticulate, that there he found himself indubitably free. He lost material ties, comforts, all superfluities and other complications to achieve a personal liberty which haunted starvation and death. [....] In his life he had air and winds, sun and light, open spaces and a great emptiness. There was no human effort, no fecundity in Nature: just the heaven above and the unspotted earth beneath. There unconsciously he came near God. God was to him not anthropomorphic, not tangible, not moral nor ethical, not concerned with the world or with him, not natural [...].21

The pattern identified by Buchan's Sandy Arbuthnot is purportedly what makes the Muslim Middle East vulnerable to the maneuverings of European powers that are able to manipulate and control this desire for “revelation” or “simplifying.” Lawrence, likewise, claims that

Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord [....] They were incorrigibly children of the idea, feckless and colour-blind, to whom body and spirit were for ever and inevitably opposed. Their mind was strange and dark, full of depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but with more of ardour and more fertile in belief than any other in the world.22

Lawrence corresponded with Buchan, beginning in 1925,23 and might well have read Greenmantle long before he mentioned it to Robert Graves. Yet what these similarities reveal would seem not to be any kind of literary influence (though both writers are arguably indebted to Charles Montague Doughty's Arabia Deserta), but rather a common participation in a shared discourse—some of the contributors to which, notably Richard Burton, Doughty, and Lawrence, also had direct experience of the people and cultures they analyzed.24

Buchan is one of Lawrence's most immediate precursors in this discourse. More importantly, before the career of “Lawrence of Arabia” was even initiated, Buchan articulated the central, tenacious principle of that career (a principle implicit in the near-parallel passages I have quoted from Seven Pillars and from Greenmantle). This principle is that the English (we can add the Scots: Buchan was himself Scottish) deserve their world empire because they have an uncanny, unequalled ability to put themselves into the minds, cultures, and clothing of other peoples, to adopt and impersonate their most admired qualities, and to be accepted by them as natural leaders and guides. (This ideology, by the way, was enunciated most clearly at the historical moment when Britain's ability to hold on to its empire through naval, military, and economic power alone was beginning to seem doubtful: Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim [1901] is one important formulation of it.)

Richard Hannay, the protagonist-narrator of Buchan's Greenmantle, is highly skilled in the arts of cultural infiltration and impersonation. He represents himself as a bluff, plain-spoken soldier who on a noble impulse accepts a suicidal secret mission into the heart of Germany and Turkey—but he manages to hoodwink German intelligence in two disguises, as a resentful South African Boer who has a plan to raise Muslims against the British Empire (Hannay speaks fluent Afrikaans), and as an officer of the German secret police (his German is similarly impeccable). He then deceives both Germans and Turks in a third role, as an American civil engineer (“Any man brought up in the colonies can get his tongue around American,” Hannay informs the reader, “and I flattered myself I made a very fair shape of the lingo of the Middle West”).25

“We call ourselves insular,” Hannay says, “but the truth is that we are the only race on earth that can produce men capable of getting inside the skin of remote peoples. Perhaps the Scots are better than the English, but we're all a thousand percent better than anybody else.”26 Germany, Britain's competitor for world empire, is in this regard not in the running: “That is the weakness of the German,” says Hannay. “He has no gift for laying himself alongside different types of men. He is such a hard-shell being that he cannot put out feelers to his kind. He may have plenty of brains, [...] but he has the poorest notion of psychology of any of God's creatures.”27

Buchan's proto-Lawrence, the Scots laird Sandy Arbuthnot, is the undisputed master of this game. Arbuthnot is an officer in Hannay's regiment, but also the epitome of the orientalist scholar-adventurer. He speaks all the languages and dialects of the Middle East, is known and respected at every social level, and is a leading member of a sinister (to Hannay's eyes) religious-political secret society that has powerful hidden connections throughout the Turkish empire and quasi-occult powers of persuasion. When Sandy's in disguise, not even Hannay can recognize him: the Turkish enemy has no defences against an infiltrator of this quality.

Buchan's novel is about fooling Germans, Turks, and also Muslims at large. The German secret service is attempting to arouse all of Islam in a jihad against Britain by manipulating a holy man (a kind of Shiite Imam) whose teachings have created a stir throughout the Middle East. But Hannay and Arbuthnot and their two companions blow up the plot from within: by the end of the novel, the Muslim prophet is none other than Sandy Arbuthnot—and “Greenmantle” manifests himself to the Turkish soldiers at Erzerum, who have been awaiting his apocalyptic coming, in the form of a British officer wearing green silk robes who rides them down at the head of a Cossack cavalry charge.

The narrative of David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia is marked by a series of moments in which Lawrence, through his rhetoric and actions, shows Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), Sherif Ali ibn el Hussein (Omar Sharif), the Howeitat sheikh Auda abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), and finally the whole army of the Arab insurrection not just that he understands and participates in their cultural codes to the point of being one of them, but also that he is fit to be their guide and strategist, their leader.

I won't enumerate these moments for you, for they're hard to miss: Lawrence repeatedly says the electrifyingly right thing, or reveals by his deeds that he understands to perfection the Bedouin code of honour. The pattern of his adoption into the culture culminates in the scene in which, with his white robes fluttering, Lawrence rides on his camel at the head of his bodyguard into a valley where Feisal's army has assembled—and as a tribute to his leadership of the Arab revolt, receives from the whole army a resonating, rhythmic chant of “Aurens! Aurens!”

What I am proposing is that we find in Buchan's novel a discursive construct, an ideology of imperial control of subject peoples through sophisticated forms of imitation and cultural penetration. Lawrence's construction of his own myth participates in this ideology and is informed by it. But Lawrence is much more interesting than Buchan in his understanding of this ideology—for he had also lived it, as Buchan had not. Richard Hannay indicates at more than one point that keeping up an elaborate pretence is tiring and stressful.28 In the first chapter of the introductory book of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence says something much stronger:

Pray God that men reading this story will not, for love of the glamour of strangeness, go out to prostitute themselves and their talents in serving another race.

A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life, having bartered his soul to a brute-master. He is not of them. He may stand against them, persuade himself of a mission, batter and twist them into something which they, of their own accord, would not have been. Then he is exploiting his old environment to press them out of theirs. Or, after my model, he may imitate them so well that they spuriously imitate him back again. Then he is giving away his own environment: pretending to theirs; and pretences are hollow, worthless things. [....]

In my case, the effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes: they destroyed it for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith.29

Lawrence was content to have people like the journalist Lowell Thomas believe that the princely robes he wore were accompanied by acceptance among the Arabs as some kind of “Prince of Mecca.” But there is a simpler and less romantic explanation. David Lean's film dramatizes Lawrence's exhausting ride to Suez after the capture of Akaba—an episode that might, on reflection, seem puzzling. One reason for haste may have been that Lawrence wanted his own detailed narrative of the event to arrive at headquarters ahead of any other.

There is quite strong evidence that the Akaba expedition was planned by Auda abu Tayi, and that Lawrence accompanied the expedition as a mere observer. But by Lawrence's account it was his plan, and he was a co-leader.30 One result of this and other acts of self-promotion was that Lawrence was given increasingly large sums of gold to dispense to tribal chieftains—for British policy then, like U.S. policy in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq since 2007, was to purchase the services of local warlords. Although Lean's film makes no mention of it (this, surely, is one of its larger deceptions), Lawrence alludes quite openly to this practice in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: in one passage he confesses to Clayton, his British superior, that having “put all myself into the Arab business,” he had “come to wreck because of my sick judgement,” and had effectively lost the substantial sum of 24,000 pounds in gold sovereigns.31 Lawrence, then, was less the adopted war-leader of the Arab army than its foreign paymaster.

His Arab comrades seem to have been content to have him dress in a manner befitting the sums that passed through his hands, but some of the British officers and civilian officials who served with him were more critical:

They thought his wearing of Arab dress histrionic and melodramatic, and considered him an actor whose cheap exploits were a result of the power of the gold so lavishly put at his disposal.32

I'm sorry if this and similar considerations take some of the shine off Lawrence-the-charismatic-Hero. But a recognition of the material underpinnings of a project in which Lawrence, while waging and theorizing about guerilla warfare, was also working and writing himself into a figure of Hamlet-like stature within the ideology of the Englishman-whose-powers-of-impersonation-make-him-fit-for-rule, gives us a much more interesting Lawrence to reflect on.

Let's return, finally, to John Buchan. (As you may know, there's a Canadian connection: this is the same John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, who was Governor-General of Canada from 1935 until his death in office in 1940, and who founded our Governor General's literary awards.) Buchan didn't just script a role for Lawrence in Greenmantle; he also effectively introduced him in 1917 to Lowell Thomas, whose mixed-media theatrical show, With Allenby in Jerusalem / With Lawrence in Arabia, played to packed houses in London and New York in 1919 and made Lawrence famous.33

Buchan was working for military intelligence in London, and when he wasn't producing propaganda fiction like Greenmantle, was writing an up-to-the-minute History of the Great War, which by the end of 1916 was up to eight slim volumes in print.34 Thomas had been sent to Europe by the U.S. government to find and write up stories that would whet American appetites for participation in the war, but a quick visit to the Western Front was enough to convince him that trench warfare, with its barbed-wire entanglements, artillery duels, machine-gun massacres, and endless mud and squalor, wouldn't serve his turn. Buchan told Lowell Thomas he would find cavalry charges and oriental exoticism a-plenty if he sought out General Allenby's campaign in Palestine: he packed him off to Cairo, from whence Thomas travelled on to Jerusalem. There Thomas met Lawrence—by his own account, swanning about in white robes.

The rest, one would like to say, was history. It might be more accurate to call it myth-making.




1  “The Decay of Lying,” in The Works of Oscar Wilde (Leicester: Galley Press, 1987), p. 911.

2  The Works of Oscar Wilde, p. 363.

3  Richard Aldington, Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry (London: Collins, 1955).

4  The Works of Oscar Wilde, p. 925. (“Their master” is the English painter J.M.W. Turner.)

5  Ibid., p. 922.

6  Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence (London: Heinemann, 1989), p. 256.

7  Ibid., p. 259.

8  Ibid., p. 262.

9  T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: a triumph (1926; rpt. London: Jonathan Cape, 1935), pp. 59-60.

10  John Buchan, Greenmantle, ed. Kate Macdonald (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 212-18, 243-44.

11  The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, ed. David Garnett, with a foreword by Captain B. H. Liddell Hart (1938; rpt. London: Spring Books, 1964), p. 203.

12  Robert Graves, Lawrence and the Arabs (1927; rpt. New York: Paragon House, 1991), p. 85.

13  Richard Aldington, Lawrence of Arabia, p. 133, quoting from Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., vol. 5, p. 59.

14  Ibid., p. 133.

15  Lowell Thomas, With Lawrence in Arabia (New York: Garden City Publishing, 1924); Robert Graves, Lawrence and the Arabs (1927; rpt. New York: Paragon House, 1991); B. H. Liddell Hart, 'T. E. Lawrence' in Arabia and After (London: Jonathan Cape, 1934). Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom was privately printed in 1926, but did not become available for general circulation until the publication of the Jonathan Cape edition in 1935. In 1927, however, Lawrence published an abbreviated version of that book as Revolt in the Desert (New York: Garden City Publishing, 1927).

16  Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, p. 55.

17  Buchan, Greenmantle, p. 54.

18  Job 1: 7.

19  Something like it occurs in Part Two, ch. 8 of Thomas Shelton's translation of Cervantes, p. 67: “In Gyants we must kill pride: [...] and sloth, by travelling up and downe the world, seeking occasions, that may make us (besides Christians) famous Knights” (The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha, trans. Thomas Shelton, intro. James Fitzmaurice-Kelly [The Tudor Translations, London: David Nutt, 1896], vol. 3, p. 67); and likewise in Gilbert Burnet and Anthony Horneck, The Last Confessions, Prayers and Meditations of Lieuten. John Stern (London, 1682), p. 1: “He had travelled up and down Europe three and twenty years [...], and he had observed many things though he had no literature....”

20  Greenmantle, pp. 182-83. Kate Macdonald glosses “Kâf” as meaning “completeness, wholeness of destiny.”

21  Seven Pillars of Wisdom, p. 40.

22  Ibid., p. 42.

23  See David Garnett, ed., The Letters of T. E. Lawrence (1938; rpt. London: Spring Books, 1964), pp. 475-76.

24  The discourse in question owes something to travel writers like Richard F. Burton, whose many books include his Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah (2 vols., 2nd ed., London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1857); and Charles Montague Doughty, author of Travels in Arabia Deserta (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1888), a book Lawrence read as part of the preparation for his undergraduate travels in Syria; see Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia, pp. 53-54. Doughty's classic was reissued by Jonathan Cape in 1936, with an introduction by Lawrence, who may indeed have been influenced by its somewhat baroque rhetoric, as well as by its account of life among the Bedouin.

25  Greenmantle, p. 151.

26  Ibid., p. 24.

27  Ibid., p. 73. Hannay, who (like Buchan) is casually antisemitic, makes an exception for German Jews—“In Germany only the Jew can get outside himself, and that is why, if you look into the matter, you will find that the Jew is at the back of most German enterprises” (pp. 73-74)—and also for the Kaiser, whom Hannay meets: “... here was a human being who [...] had the power of laying himself alongside other men.” Hannay contrasts the Kaiser to Colonel von Stumm, the brutal, stereotypically teutonic intelligence officer (“the German of caricature, the real German, the fellow we were up against” [p. 50]), whom Hannay goes on both to outwit and also, despite the man's gigantic size, to outbox: “Stumm would not have cared a tinker's curse for all the massacres in history. But this man, the chief of a nation of Stumms, paid the price in war for the gifts that had made him successful in peace. He had imagination and nerves, and the one was white hot and the others were quivering” (pp. 76-77).

28  Greenmantle, p. 66: “The tension of the talk at supper had made me very tired. I was accepted by these men for exactly what I professed to be. [....] But all the same I was skating on thin ice. I could not sink myself utterly in the part, for if I did I would get no good out of being there. I had to keep my wits going all the time, and join the appearance and manners of a backveld Boer with the mentality of a British intelligence-officer. Any moment the two parts might clash and I would be faced with the most alert and deadly suspicion.” In Constantinople, Hannay tells his American collaborator Blenkiron, “I've been playing a part for the past month, and it wears my nerves to tatters” (p. 155).

29  Seven Pillars of Wisdom, pp. 31-32.

30  See Seven Pillars, p. 323: “Upon Clayton I opened myself completely. Akaba had been taken on my plan by my effort. The cost of it had fallen on my brains and nerves. There was much more I felt inclined to do, and capable of doing:—if he thought I had earned the right to be my own master. The Arabs said each man believed his ticks to be gazelles: I did, fervently.”

31  Seven Pillars, pp. 499-502. Other references to Lawrence as paymaster can be found at pp. 274-75, 321, 324, 326, 449, 465-66, 490-91, 498, and 527-28 (where the pay takes the form of two thousand camels).

32  Aldington, p. 128, paraphrasing Sir Ernest Dowson from his contribution to T. E. Lawrence by His Friends.

33  See Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia, pp. 622-26.

34  First published in twenty-four slim volumes between 1915 and 1919, the work was reprinted as a whole shortly after the war ended: A History of the Great War (4 vols., London: Nelson, 1921-22; 8 vols., Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1922).