A young blonde man walks into the recruiting office and fills out an application to enlist in the Royal Air Force. John Hume Ross, 28.
Except he isn’t.
He is Thomas Edward Lawrence, just turned 34, former colonel in the British Army, known for his role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the Great War, and until recently a bored bureaucrat in the government’s Foreign Office.
T. E. Lawrence during the Great War
Even though his supervisor there, Winston Churchill, 47, head of the Colonial Office and MP for Dundee, sent him back to the Middle East several times, Lawrence found the administrative work stultifying. Churchill finally accepted his resignation last month.
Since the end of the War, Lawrence has been working on his memoir, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and privately published, at his own expense, a few copies with the Oxford Press this summer.
During his service he realized how important air power now is in battle; he wants to re-enlist, this time with the RAF.
Anticipating problems if he tries to sign up at his age, earlier this year Lawrence met with Sir Hugh Trenchard, 49, the “father” of the RAF, at the Air Ministry to tell him of his plan. Trenchard agreed.
Now, at the recruiting office, Flying Officer W. E. Johns, 29, is suspicious of “Ross” and his fitness for service. Lawrence admits that he gave false information and Johns rejects him.
Lawrence contacts Trenchard who sends a message that Officer Johns must accept Lawrence.
He’s in. Again.
T. E. Lawrence in the RAF
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.