Loans from All Souls College, Oxford
- here is a brief post to let you know a little more about some of the items we are bring out from the collection of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College in Oxford.
T.E. Lawrence was a Research Fellow of the College from 1919 to 1926. He tried living there during 1919 and 1920, but had also spent time writing in London. He gave up his rooms at Oxford in 1922.
The people at All Souls have been very helpful and generous. I met with the Bursar, Thomas Seaman in the middle of 2006 and he was very understanding as I arrived at Oxford very late in the day after catching the wrong train back to central London from The National Archives in Kew. We didn't have much time to chat, but he was really helpful and agreed to facilitate our request for these loans:
Robes and sandals worn by Lawrence. After joining the Arab forces in 1916, Lawrence was requested to wear their clothing. He felt he could not gain their trust while in British uniform, and also that the robes were more practical for life in the desert. Photographs of a robed Lawrence invested him with an exotic and romantic appeal - a contrast to the dark and muddy soldiers of the Western Front. The outer robe, or zebun, was given to All Souls College by Lawrence's mother in 1938.
Letter to Lawrence from Emir Feisal. In early March 1917 Lawrence had gone to persuade Feisal's brother, Emir Abdullah at Wadi Ais, to attack the Hejaz railway, but had become ill. On the 30th Feisal wrote: "Your presence with me is very indispensable, in view of urgency of questions and the pace of affairs ... So I hope that you will return as soon as you receive this letter." Lawrence immediately set out for Wejh, arriving on 14 April.
Gold dagger, belt and scabbard. Lawrence wore the dagger, discreetly acquired in Mecca in 1917, during the war; it also appears in the famous Augustus John portrait. He had it made small because a full-size one would have been too cumbersome. After the war he sold it to pay for repairs to his Dorset cottage, "Clouds Hill"; in 1938 it was given to All Souls College.
Head cloth and agal (head rope). Lawrence had purchased the head-dress in Aleppo in 1912 and given it to his mother the following year. He recovered it to wear during the war because good quality examples were by then hard to obtain.
Silver plate, bowl, and spoon. About 1917 Lawrence had a canteen set made in Jidda to his own design. It included the plate, bowl, and spoon which he carried and used throughout the desert campaigns.
Hittite horse and rider. Lawrence kept the terracotta animal figure in his room at All Souls College in Oxford after the war. It dates from the ninth century BC and comes from the area of his excavations at Carchemish.
We are just now finalising the exhibition catalogue for printing and I have some time to do more posts about the exhibition. So,