Lawrence Lecture Series: Lawrence as a Writer
A Rare and Intriguing Letter Signed by TE Lawrence comes up for Auction
Writing Lawrence and his World: Jeremy Wilson and the Art/Science of Biography
Location: Magdalen College Oxford
Date: 30th/31st August 2023
T.E. Lawrence was a soldier, strategist, archaeologist, writer and myth, and also one of Magdalen College’s most (in)famous alumni. His life, work and exploits have been interpreted and reinterpreted by hundreds of writers with myriad perspectives, from the most passionate of fans to the critique of postcolonial commentators.
In 1989, after twenty-five years of research, Jeremy Wilson published the authorised biography of Lawrence, and claimed it as the first major objective record of Lawrence’s life. He had spent decades gathering a huge collection of evidence from official government records, copies of Lawrence’s letters to informal personal testimonies and the collections of fans.
To celebrate the completion of the cataloguing of the papers of Jeremy Wilson at the Archives of Magdalen College Oxford, we invite speakers to address the subject of “Writing Lawrence” as a starting point to discuss biographical writing on both Lawrence and his wider circle(s). We are interested in papers on:
- The practice of archival research, collecting and biographical writing on T.E. Lawrence
- Existing biographical writing on T.E. Lawrence including works by Jeremy Wilson, Liddell Hart, Robert Graves, Victoria Ocampo, Suleiman Mousa, etc.
- Biographical research and writing on Lawrence’s wider circle in the military, literary, political, artistic and archaeological worlds, e.g. King Faisal I of Iraq, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Nancy Astor, E.M. Forster, Winston Churchill, Augustus John, Gertrude Bell, etc.
- The challenge of writing a biography on Lawrence and his world. Can there be a definitive biography of a life that spanned so many fields and contained so many contradictions, and which embodies multiple meanings for different audiences? Do more elusive figures like Lawrence lend themselves particularly to subjective interpretations and fictionality in biographical writing?
Papers should not be longer than 30 minutes. Please send abstracts of c.300 words to [email protected] by 31 January 2023.
Bust of T.E. Lawrence by Eric Kennington, 41 cm high, 42.5 cm wide.
Mid brown patinated bronze. Incised T.E.L – E.H.K. 6.
The family of the artist is offering this bronze cast of the well-known portrait bust of T E Lawrence (other casts are in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, the collection of the Tate Gallery and at Jesus and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford). Lawrence described this bust as “Magnificent; there is no other word for it. It represents not me but my top moments, those few seconds when I succeed in thinking myself right out of things.”
The present cast was owned by Chris Kennington, the son of the artist. It appears likely, based on notes made by Chris Kennington in 2009, that this is number 6 of an edition cast in the 1960s.
Offer for Sale – This bust is being offered in the first instance to members of the T E Lawrence Society, on the basis of non-binding sealed bids, which are anticipated to be in the range of £30,000 to £40,000.
Bids should be sent either by post to Alasdair Kennington, 6 Rothamsted Avenue, Harpenden, AL5 2DB; or by email to [email protected] to arrive no later than the end of Monday 5 October 2020.
Bids should state the amount offered, contact details of the person making the offer, and any other information that is considered relevant including any collection or delivery requirements. Bids are non-binding and the sellers do not undertake to accept the highest bid or to accept any bid. The cast is currently in Devon, but it is anticipated (COVID-19 precautions permitting) that it will be stored in Oxfordshire by 5 October. Collection/delivery will be dependent on the pandemic precautions in force at the time.