Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lawrence of Arabia, Complex Son of Lord and Governess. Wales, Caernarvonshire

A Son of Wales

Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Tremadoc
Lawrence of Arabia, a Welshman, would you believe. Some purists would say, not Welsh, because he represents a shadow line of Irish nobility, not the indigenous Welsh.

Still, Thomas Edward Lawrence, a/k/a Lawrence of Arabia, was born in Tremadoc, Caernarvonshire, Wales in 1888. His father was a peer (Sir Thomas Chapman, Seventh Baronet of Westmeath, Ireland) who fell in love with the family's governess, Sarah Junner, but the Lady Chapman refused to divorce, see :// They had daughters at the time.

So Sir Chapman moved out and lived with Sarah Junner thereafter. Sarah then had five sons with Thomas, never marrying because he could not get the divorce. The family moved about.

Upbringing for the young T. E. Lawrence was not conventional, in the sense that all five children in this second family remained illegitimate.

Questions -Where did the last name, "Lawrence", come from? Not his mother, not his father. What was the first family and what happened to them? What did the Chapman-Junner children inherit? T. E. Lawrence apparently died without much. The Chapman family traces back to 1517, see :// Here are some answers: the first family produced daughters, and the title of the Baronetcy died with Sir Chapman in 1919, see://' Their castle was Killua Castle, see :// In 2000, it was on the market for the equivalent of some $365,000 - but in ruins. Sir Walter Raleigh planted potatoes there. See ://

After travels, everybody ended in Oxford, and then "Ned" went on to Syria, and Arabia, doing archeology.

Talk about a walk. He walked some 1100 miles, a walking tour, in Syria, Palestine, Turkey. He developed a close relationship with Arab culture - this site calls it a "love affair" - see :// His special friend was Dahoum there, a 14-year-old water boy when he met him.

Then, during World War I, T.E. Lawrence used his Turkish and Arabic language skills to assist the British Army, and went to Cairo as an interpreter, interviewing Turkish prisoners. On his own, without informing London, he joined in the Great Arab Revolt against the Turks. He rode hundreds of miles with the fighters to strike the Turks then attacking Aqaba - and was victorious. Brave, legendary in his time there, engaging in brilliant guerrilla warfare, several times wounded, and wearing Arab dress. London learned of his role in undermining the Turks, was pleased, and authorized T.E.Lawrence' s further push with the Arabs, now part of the Allies, toward Damascus.

He wrote his autobiography and accounts of adventures in the Arab revolt in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published in 1927. He dedicated the book to Dahoum. See // He wrote The Mint, about the Air Force, see below, and that has been compared to the work of Ernest Hemingway, see the firstworldwar site.

He died in 1935, in obscurity after celebrity, having opposed later policies toward the Arabs; and after a motorcycle accident. See :// He is buried at St. Martin at Wareham, Dorset.

John Hume Ross: Lawrence took that name to join the Royal Air Force. Thomas Edward Shaw: Lawrence took that name to join the Tank Corps when Ross was found out. Then, in 1925, back to the Air Force as Shaw, and off to India.

Rape in war is taken for granted as to women, is it not; so why should rape of a man be of any more significance. None rationally, only culturally. One gender is expendable, the other not. News. Life is unfair. And here, see the element of voluntariness in the "I gave away". And note the need to tell.

A quotation from the site --
"In 1916 he was captured and subjected to beatings and homosexual rape by the Turkish governor of Deraa, ''an ardent pederast'' (Lawrence's own term). Though he escaped, Lawrence was shattered by the experience. ''I gave away the only possession we are born into the world with - our bodily integrity,'' he later wrote."
He indeed harbored masochistic tendencies, says this site, see ://, so that could explain the enigmatic reference to the Deraa era, and some of the later film's scenes.

Home page: :// See 1963 film, Lawrence of Arabia, with Peter O'Toole. Read review from The Village Voice at the time, with wry criticisms and ironies, re role of mortifications, at ://

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