T E Lawrence

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Lawrence, T. E. (1888–1935), generally known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Born in north Wales of Anglo-Irish stock, educated at Oxford High School and Jesus College, Oxford, Lawrence's interest in medieval military architecture led to a travelling fellowship to excavate in the Middle East, enabling familiarization with its language and people. In 1914 his rare expertise in Arab affairs resulted in intelligence work in Egypt, where he sought to undermine Germany's ally Turkey, and met Faisal (later ruler of Iraq). He was not the only British officer involved in the Arab rebellion, but his guerrilla attacks, particularly on communications (bridges, railways), distracted and contained Turkish troops remarkably effectively. Demobilized as a colonel, he was appointed adviser on Arab affairs to Churchill in the Colonial Office (1921), and worked on his war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom. An extremely complex individual, Lawrence then enlisted as an RAF aircraftsman, changing his name to Ross, then Shaw by deed-poll (1927), and spent several years developing high-speed watercraft. Soon after discharge in 1935, he was killed near his cottage at Clouds Hill, Dorset in a motor-cycling accident. Such was the awe in which he was held that popular rumour insisted that he had once more gone into hiding in preparation for a new war.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Lawrence, T.E. ( Thomas Edward) (1888–1935) (Lawrence of Arabia) British soldier. He joined the army in World War I, and in 1916 became a leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks. He proved a successful guerrilla commander, leading Arab forces into Damascus, Syria, in October 1918. He published his remarkable account of the Arab revolt, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, privately in 1926.


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