Happy Birthday T E Lawrence!
Today marks 127 years since the birth of the diplomat, strategist, soldier and author T E Lawrence. Lawrence was just 46 years old, when he died in a motorcycle accident in 1935. Although his death was premature, he still managed to pack a lot into his lifetime. Many people reading will have no doubt seen David Lean’s incredible 1962 film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’… As wonderful as the film was, it added quite a few untruths to Lawrence already brimming biography;
A Hero’s Welcome: We see Lawrence receive a hero's welcome from his Arabian companions after rescuing a man lost in the desert. The opposite was in fact true, he received only ridicule for risking his own life to save someone considered well… worthless.
The Death of Daud: Getting swallowed by quicksand - what a way to go… except he didn’t. The real Daud was actually called Ali and died from too much heat exposure whilst guarding a remote desert outpost. Lawrence wasn’t there when he died either - he learned of his death months after it had happened. Also, you need water for quicksand… which isn’t easy to find in the desert.
Attack on Aqaba: The crucial battle for control of Aqaba was heavily fictionalised on film - taking place in the wrong location and at a different date. The film also glosses over the fact that Auda abu Tayi deserved most of the credit for taking Aqaba - Lawrence himself described Tayi as the "greatest fighting man in northern Arabia".
Insider Knowledge: The film made it appear as though Lawrence only learns of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in last days of the war. He had actually been aware of the British-French accord (betraying the promise of Arab independence) since before the Arab Revolt began - leaving him with the deep guilt alluded to in his autobiography ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’.
A Terrifically Tall T E: The inimitable Peter O’Toole (can you believe this was his debut film role!) does bear a remarkable resemblance to the real Lawrence - but the 6ft 2 actor stood almost a foot taller than his diminutive counterpart.
Of course, you could always get to know the real legend of Lawrence on our ‘All Men Dream But Not Equally’ tour. Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence and his army across incredible desert locales; stop at railway stations, hilltop redoubts, blockhouses, military camps and more. Take this unprecedented opportunity to relive the war, 100 years on, in the very landscape where it was fought…