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A small archive of material from the papers of Lionel Curtis, relating to his address given at the dedication of the Oxford High School memorial to T.E. Lawrence.

LAWRENCE T.E. (1936 and 1937.)


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Including two Churchill TLS, an unrecorded Churchill ephemeron, and an unrecorded variant of the programme for the dedication. Various sizes, various dates, all

Lionel Curtis was one of the founders, with D.G. Hogarth, of The Round Table, a rather secretive quarterly review and debating circle which was to wield a certain influence over foreign policy in the early years of the twentieth century. After meeting Curtis in 1918 at the Paris Peace Conference (where Curtis was a member of the League of Nations section of the British delegation) Lawrence contributed an essay to the journal, and became a close friend and admirer. Curtis later became a fellow of All Souls and was one of Lawrence's advisers on the finances of the Subscriber's edition of Seven Pillars. The correspondence begins with a retained carbon of a TLS, dated Sept. 26 1936, from Curtis to [Robin] Buxton, who served with Lawrence in Arabia and later became his bank manager, and with Curtis an adviser on the printing of Seven Pillars, and later a trustee of Revolt in the Desert. The letter announces Curtis's success in persuading Winston Churchill to give the speech at Oxford, and asking for help in compiling a list of those who might dine together afterwards. The next item is a fine two-page TLS from Churchill to "My dear Lionel" dated 26th September 1936, making arrangements for the speech, in which he gives instructions on how to handle its reporting by the press: "their usual method is to cut out every third sentence, which has the effect of taking up a lot of their space, but confronting the reader with a thoroughly mutilated and vicious version. . . if you can't settle with them, nobody can" and announces the "ill-concealed relief" with which he has given up golf. The real substance of the letter comes in the last paragraph, in which he says "It will give me great pleasure to see some of my old friends of a quarter of a century ago. It is something anyhow to have survived such grim years. What a tragedy it is that we have not got Lawrence with us to settle up Palestine. He alone could have done it and everybody would have taken his decision." The letter has pencil annotations, presumably by Curtis, to the effect that part of the letter is to be excerpted and forwarded to "Dawson". The dedication ceremony took place on the 3rd of October, and on the 8th Churchill sends a 1p TLS, also on Chartwell letterhead "I am very grateful for the delightful visit you planned for me. I enjoyed it so much, and am also content that my speech about T.E.L. was considered adequate. "The next three items are far more trivial, but quite fun: in a retained carbon copy of a TLS from Curtis to "Barrington Ward" Curtis asks for a copy of "an extract from Winston Churchill's speech on Lawrence" set for a translation examination: "Winston . . . should greatly appreciate the unintended compliment paid to him". There is a also a copy of the paper itself, which turns out to be for the "First Public Examination. Class Paper. Latin Prose" and consists of the first two paragraphs of the published speech. The passages excised, while not quite making it a "mutilated and vicious version" include references to the growing European crisis and, in an echo of the first letter to Curtis above, the sentence "If things were going badly how glad one would be to see him come round the corner." This examination paper must be very rare (it is not noted by the bibliographers of either Churchill or Lawrence) and may precede the printing of the full speech, which was achieved at an unknown date in 1937. A copy of the full text of the speech, in Proceedings at the Unveiling of the Memorial to Lawrence of Arabia (O'Brien E166, Woods D(b)50(b)) is present as well, in an unrecorded variant state, with the twelve line foreword, the John Johnson imprint, and printed on laid unwatermarked paper. Some paperclip stains, but generally good.

Stock Code: 225581