Thomas Hardy and T E Lawrence
(Lawrence or Arabia) 1888-1935)
When Thomas was living at Max Gate a favorite of the household was T.E. Lawrence who in 1923 was stationed nearby at Bovington Camp. Once he had ascertained that he was welcome, he became a frequent visitor. He even took Florence, whose life was evidently short on thrills, out in a sidecarof Boanerges, his mortorbike. The Hardy's parlourmaid Nellie Titterngton recalled how he dispelled the habitual 'gloom that filled the whole atmosphere' of the house. He also brought pleasure to Thomas. Lawrence wrote of his visits 'I go there as often as I decently can'.
When Hardy died Lawrence was unable to be one of his pall-bearers as he was then in Karachi.
"Nothing in Clouds Hill is to be a care upon the world. While I have it there shall be nothing exquiste or unique in it. Nothing to anchor me." T.E. Lawrence
T.E. Lawrence lived just a short distance away from Thomas Hardy at Clouds Hill, Bovington, Dorset. Using the name 'Aircraftsman Shaw', rented this little brick and tile cottage on the slopes of Clouds Hill in 1923 as a retreat from nearby Bovington Camp when he rejoined the Air Force. Lawrence used the pseudonym Shaw to avoid publicity after his return from North Africa, where he was better known as 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
He found Clouds Hill hidden away amongst the rhodendron thickets and was immediately attarcted to it and arranged to rent it for half a crown per week. It was built in 1808 originally as a labourers cottage and it had no amenities at all. 'As ugly as sins. Lawrence called it. He later bought the cottage and it became his 'earthly paradise'. He did not sleep at the cottage but spent evenings away from the camp reading, writing and listening to Beethoven and Mozart on his gramophone. Friends invited to the cottage were served picnic meals washed down with water or china tea but never alcohol. To pay for the many repairs he sold a much tresured gold dagger acquired at Mecca for £120.
At Clouds Hill Lawrence found the peace and quiet he needed to work on 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' which was published in 1926.
Over the door way he inscribed the punchline from a story in Herodotus: OU ØPOVTIS - 'why worry'. The tiny rooms of Clouds Hill are as Lawrence left them with simple and austere furnishings, some of which he made himself. The cottage reflects his complex personality and monastic way of life. The crowded book room is lined with shelves from floor to ceiling. Under the roof is the music room, which contains Lawrences's wind-up gramophone with its huge horn curling over a leather sofa. His 78 r.p.m.records are still there, as are photographs relating to his Arabian campaign. The coffin stool was given to him by Florence Hardy.
In 1935, after spending many years in the Air Force away from the cottage, Lawrence was discharged at the age of 46 and returned to Clouds Hill to live out his days. Five days later he was killed in a crash on his motor cycle when returning to Clouds Hill from Bovington Post Office. On 13 May 1935, he wheeled out his massive Brough Superior motorcycle for the last time and rode down to Bovington camp to send a telegram in reply to a letter received that morning from Henry Williamson, proposing the vital meeting with Adolf Hitler. The telegram of agreement was dispatched and then on the way back the accident happened. He was just 200 yards from the cottage. At least four witnesses saw it: two delivery boys on bicycles, an army corporal walking in the field by the road and the occupants of a black van heading toward Lawrence. After the crash the black van raced off down the road and the corporal ran over to the injured man who lay on the road with his face covered in blood. Almost immediately an army truck came along and Lawrence was put inside and taken to the camp hospital where a top security guard was imposed. Special "D" notices were put on all newspapers and the War Office took charge of all communications.
Police from Special Branch sat by the bedside and guarded the door. No visitors were allowed. The cottage was raided and "turned over," many books and private papers were confiscated. Army intelligence interrogated the two boys for several hours. The corporal was instructed not to mention the van as being involved in the accident. Six days later Lawrence died and two days later an inquest was held under top security which lasted only two hours. The boys denied ever seeing a black van which contradicted the statement by the army corporal who was the principal witness. But no attempts were made to trace the vehicle and the jury gave a verdict of "accidental death." He was buried that same afternoon.
Lawrence's Broughs Superior motorcycles
Lawrence actually met his untimely death while riding the Brough Superior a 1932 1000ce 58100 (GW 2275) he named George VII.
From September 1922, Lawrence owned eight Brough motorcycles; he had names for each of them:
1922 -'Boa', short for Boanerges 'Sons of Thunder', the title Jesus gave to disciples James and John.
1923 - George I that cost £150, more than the price of a house at the time.
1924 - George II.
1925 - George III.
1926 - George IV.
1927 - George V (RK 4907).
1929 - George VI (UL 656).
1932 - George VII (GW 2275). Brough Superior SS100 The machine on which Lawrence had his fatal accident in 1935.
George VIII was being built when Lawrence died but it was never delivered.
In 1913, Lawrence wrote a book entitled Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 'a moral symphony' which recounted adventures in seven cities of the East. He later burned his early effort, but in its memory, he named the later work.
Three drafts were written and one earlier edition of the Seven Pillars was published prior to the 1926 edition. The earliest manuscript, written in 1919, was lost by Lawrence at Reading Train Station. A later draft, written from memory, was re-worked into a third draft. Lawrence sold the first three chapters to Robert Graves and they were published between July and October 1921 in The World's Work, an American journal. The three chapters of Seven Pillars of Wisdom published in The World's Work are all that remain of the second version. Lawrence was dissatisfied with it and eventually burnt it with a blow lamp in 1922.
Though Lawrence felt that the story in the third manuscript was "diffuse and unsatisfactory", eight copies were printed in 1922 by the Oxford Times staff. The volumes were large and the text was printed in double column lino-type. This is considered the first English edition of Seven Pillars, and it was not available for sale to the public. Of the original eight, six copies remain extant. The first readers of this edition included Bernard Shaw, E.M. Forster, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Siegfried Sassoon.
Lawrence's grave is to be found at the village of Moreton, a mile and a half
from his home ("Cloud's Hill") at Bovington.
It has been said that the gravestone may not have been the one Lawrence would have chosen. Nonetheless, it is inscribed thus: -
TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF
FELLOW OF ALL SOULS COLLEGE
BORN 16 AUGUST 1886
DIED 19 MAY 1935
THE HOUR IS COMING AND NOW IS
WHEN THE DEAD SHALL HEAR
THE VOICE OF THE
SON OF GOD
AND THEY THAT HEAR
An effigy of Lawrence is in the church of St. Martin's-on-the-Walls, Wareham. Its creator, Eric Kennington, intended it for the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral; however the cathedral already possessed Kenington's bust of Lawrence, and considered this effigy to be superfluous.
A Memorial Plaque has been placed at the spot where Lawrence had his fatal accident. It is located a short distance between Clouds Hill cottage and Bovington Tank Museum it reads;-
"Near this spot Lawrence of Arabia crashed on his
motorcycle and was fatally injured 13 May 1935."
"This tree was planted on 13 May 1983
by Mr Tom Beaumont who served
with Lawrence in Arabia as his No.1 Vickers Machine Gunner."
LOCK OF T. E. LAWRENCES HAIR- A lock of Lawrences hair was given in 1939 by his mother to Miss Eva Dugdale, sister of Thomas Hardys second wife (Florence Dugdale), who had met Lawrence at Max Gate, Hardys Dorset home. Mrs Lawrence write: 'I am sending you a lock of dear Neds hair cut off when he was almost two years old You remember he had a very thick head of hair.'
May 1923- Jonathan Cape asks Lawrence to translate Mardrus' Mille et une Nuits into English. Lawrence is enthusiastic, and also agrees to tackle a minor French novel by Adrien le Corbeau called Le Gigantesque. The Arabian Nights project comes to nothing, since Cape learns that another translation is already in progress; but work on the Gigantesque takes up much of Lawrence's free time during the summer. He begins to visit Thomas Hardy, who lives nearby.
Lawrence's sleeping bag returned
The sleeping bag which served as a guest bed to some of the 20th century's most distinguished authors at TE Lawrence's weekend retreat was returned 36 years after it was stolen. National trust custodians of Clouds Hill, the author's cottage in Dorset, were amazed when a parcel from Belgium arrived containing the sleeping bag along with a note which said: "This is yours." The bag, embroidered with the word "tuum", was provided for guests at the cottage, while Lawrence slept on the floor in the other sleeping bag, marked "meum". According to Jeremy Wilson, Laurence's biographer, 'tuum's' occupants included George Bernard Shaw, EM Forster and Robert Graves. Frances Chapman, the custodian of Clouds Hill, said: "We do not know who had the bag all these years, but we are thankful it's back. It's in good condition, a lot better than 'meum'. The bag's disappearance in 1965 coincided with the release of Lawrence of Arabia, the film which immortalised its owner. It was thought the theft could have been inspired by the publicity and excitement generated by the film.
Thomas Hardy and T. E. Lawrence: A Literary Friendship- Susan H. Warren - If friendship can be defined as a mutual regard cherished by kindred minds, then the relationship between Thomas Hardy and T. E. Lawrence was surely a friendship of the highest order. By the end of World War I, due to his exploits in Arabia, Lawrence had become a household word. Hardy, meanwhile, forty-eight years Lawrence's senior, was a highly respected author and poet who was still a voice from the Victorian era through his novels and poetry. Though it is widely acknowledged that Hardy's poetry remained somewhat static in style; that the mature Hardy's poems were similar in theme to his early works and, therefore, difficult to date accurately; it is possible that some of Hardy's poems written between 1923 and his death in 1928 show traces of influence from this remarkable friendship. Exploration of several areas of both men's writings, their philosophies, and the friendship itself, reveals interesting similarities and phrases in at least two of Hardy's dateable poems, which may be a result of Lawrence's frequent presence at Max Gate, Florence and Thomas Hardy's Dorset home. It was through this friendship with Robert Graves, who knew the Hardys, that an introduction was arranged. In a letter dated 20 March 1923, Lawrence commented to Graves: 'He's a proper poet and a fair novelist, in my judgement, and it would give me a feeling of another milestone passed if I might meet him. . .' Five days later, at Graves' suggestion, Lawrence wrote to Mrs Hardy, introducing himself, requesting a meeting, and offering the compliment that 'The Dynasts and the other poems are so wholly good to my taste'.
On 29 March, Lawrence made the first of many calls to Max Gate. Lawrence had long admired Hardy's poetical style as he had included four of Hardy's poems - 'To the Moon,' 'When I set out for Lyonnesse,' 'The Ivy-Wife,' and 'The Impercipient: (At a Cathedral Service)' plus the final chorus from The Dynasts - in a personal anthology of poems later published under the title of Minorities..
A Hardy biographer, Michael Millgate, firmly states that there was a camaraderie from the start: 'liking and admiration on both sides was immediate and strong, and Lawrence returned to Max Gate whenever his duties would allow him to do so, trying (not always successfully) to avoid encounters with other visitors who might know and recognise him.'.During that first spring, Lawrence made three visits and Mrs Florence Hardy felt he was 'a most brilliant, magnetic young man'. In June, Lawrence returned their hospitality by entertaining them and E. M. Forster at a 'sumptuous tea' at his cosy, yet simple cottage located near Moreton in Dorset. Jeremy Wilson, in his 1989 biography of T. E. Lawrence, maintains that 'during the summer Lawrence's new friendship with the Hardys had deepened. He now visited Max Gate at least once a fortnight'. This meant he had to contend with the Hardys' fearsome Caesar terrier, Wessex. Apparently the 'indulged dog was a menace to all guests. According to Cynthia Asquith, [a guest], it "contested" every forkful on the way to her mouth. The respectable trousers of both John Galsworthy and the surgeon, Sir Frederick Treves, were reduced to tatters. Only T. E. Lawrence of Arabia, perhaps by some esoteric desert magic, managed to remain unscathed'.
Lawrence's mesmerizing effect had obviously reached beyond Wessex to the Hardys themselves, and to their tight circle of acquaintances. In a letter to Florence Barger, E. M. Forster wrote: 'To be with him [Lawrence], or to read him, is a great experience, as he has the power of making one feel one could do all he has done. I don't know whether this is a mark of genius, certainly few people have it' (Brown and Cave, frontispiece). Florence Hardy echoed these sentiments in a letter of her own to Louisa Yearsley, her younger, more urbane friend: 'he "utterly captivated" Hardy by a life and personality that had been so unlike Hardy's own' Gittings states further that members of Hardy's tight literary circle such as Siegfried Sassoon, Walter de la Mare, E.M. Forster, John Galsworthy and J.M. Barrie were frequent guests at Max Gate and were fascinated by Hardy: 'To them he seemed a living link with an incredible past of English letters, a Victorian who had achieved his reputation before the Queen died, now creating work that was as much of the twentieth century as their own'. This statement alone indicates forward-thinking changes in Hardy's style, which critics, in general, seem reluctant to acknowledge.
As the months of 1923 and 1924 passed, the childless Hardy developed an extraordinary affection for Lawrence (a role Lawrence also played to the [George Bernard] Shaws) - almost as a surrogate son. Since Thomas Hardy left no intimate journals and apparently wrote few letters of a personal nature, the inner details - his private feelings about people, books, triumphs, despair - are denied to scholars. For glimpses into the mind of Hardy, we must turn to Florence Hardy, who maintained a lively correspondence with friends. She may have spoken for both of them when she wrote to Sydney Cockerell in 1927: 'He [Lawrence] is one of the few entirely satisfactory people in the world. He can be so very kind'. And in a letter to Robert Graves, the man responsible for their friendship, Mrs Hardy wrote: 'I consider him the most marvellous human being I have ever met. It is not his exploits in Arabia that attract me, nor the fact that he is a celebrity: it is his character that is so splendid'.
With shining recommendations such as these, Lawrence must have had some impact on Hardy. It is unimaginable that conversational topics encompassed only such mundane issues as Wessex's latest escapades or Lawrence's newest Brough Superior motorcycle, when Lawrence himself recorded in a letter to Robert Graves that 'he [Hardy] takes me as soberly as he would take John Milton (how sober that name is), considers me as carefully, is as interested in me. . .' Lawrence did not write compliments such as this one capriciously.
If Lawrence did indeed have an impact on Hardy, he was not the first to do so. Although most critics hold a consensus of opinion that Hardy's poetry shows little sign of outside influence, Hardy himself, in a rare personal note, wrote of his friend, Sir Leslie Stephen, remarking that, 'Stephen's philosophy influenced [my] own for many years, indeed, more than that of any other contemporary'. Mr Orel, in his article on the literary friendships of Thomas Hardy, maintains that 'Stephen gave Hardy more lucid, usable advice than any other editor in his entire career'. Lawrence may not have given Hardy advice, but their minds had similar attitudes towards life and literature.
Lawrence may have been a celebrity of sorts and a quasi-eccentric, but he was also known to have a streak of stoicism which must have appealed to Hardy. According to critic Samuel Hynes, three themes constantly reappear in Hardy's poetry: 'mutability and the passing of time, mortality, and the courage of stoicism' (p. Lawrence had made a career out of self-denial, testing himself, and pushing his limits. 'In Lawrence was a hardness with self, an unforgivingness, a stoicism, a refusal of indulgence'. Thomas Hardy may have seen in Lawrence the person he longed to be when he wrote in his poem 'Epitaph': 'I never cared for life: Life cared for me | And hence I owed it some fidelity'. In his own individual expression, Lawrence felt so strongly about not caring for life that he personally carved 'Does not care' in Greek letters on the stone lintel of the front door to his cottage. Lawrence would later write in The Mint, his account of RAF recruit training: 'Service life in this way teaches a man to live largely on little'. 'Airmen have no possessions, few ties, little daily care. . . And airmen are cared for as little as they care'. Hardy must have felt that here was a man cut from the same cloth as he himself.
Besides stoicism, both Hardy and the younger Lawrence shared other obsessive ideas which appear in Lawrence's only poem, 'To S. A.', a dedicatory work (first drafted in 1919-1920, well before Lawrence met Hardy, and polished slightly for the subscribers' printing) prefacing his monumental Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and in a short, reflective poem written by Hardy on the occasion of his eighty-sixth birthday, 'He Never Expected Much'. Samuel Hynes lists these obsessive ideas' of Hardy's as: 'infidelities of all possible kinds, the inevitable loss of love, the destructiveness of time, the implacable indifference of nature, the cruelty of men, the irreversible pastness of the past'. Considering the fact that 1926 saw both Hardy's eighty-sixth birthday and the publication of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, it seems no accident that there are correspondences in both poems. Lawrence writes in the first two stanzas of 'To S. A.' of the inevitable loss of love:
Clouds Hill is now owned and maintained by the National Trust
Clouds Hill Opening arrangements:
31 Mar-27 Oct Thur-Sun and Bank Hol Mon 12.00-17.00 or dusk if earlier. Parties wishing to visit at other times must telephone in advance
3 Apr31 Oct 125 Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Notes: Open BH Mons. Closes at dusk if earlier than 5; no electric light.
Groups wishing to visit at other times must tel. in advance
Admission prices: £2.90. No reduction for children.
T. E. Lawrence books on sale
Steps to entrance. Ground floor accessible with assistance. No access to other floors. Walking frame available. more information
Suitable for school groups.
Directions: 9ml E of Dorchester, 1½ml E of Waddock crossroads (B3390), 4ml S of A35 PooleDorchester road, 1ml N of Bovington Camp Bus: First 1014, 107 from Wool, alight Bovington, 1¼ml Station: Wool 3½ml; Moreton (U) 3½ml
Free car park 30yds, not suitable for coaches. No trailer caravans