LAWRENCE, T.E. (1888-1935). 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
Two exceptionally fine and revealing Autograph Letters Signed ('T E Shaw') to B[ill] B[ugg], in all 4 pages folio, East Cowes, Isle of Wight and Southampton, 18 & 30 July 1933. The letters deal with the conversion of Cloud's Hill, his Dorset cottage, and disclose the care and expertise he brought to the project. Bill Bugg was a local character and jobbing builder who carried out much of the work.
The first letter instructs Bugg to insert a stainless steel window frame into the stone mullion in the lower floor of the cottage, and shows Lawrence's grasp of the difficulties of the job and the technical language connected with it. More of a designer than a craftsman, Lawrence's genius lay in identifying and solving potential problems.
'... [Pat Knowles & I] unpacked the window-frame. A rotten job, I call it. I think it is too long. Please try & fit it in somehow. Smith might be able to saw off the top and bottom flanges. Then the handle is the wrong way round, on the square. It will foul the stone-work. That means filing off the burr, getting it on the opposite side, and rivetting it over again. ...'In the event, the job proved so difficult that neither Budd nor his father felt up to it and resorted to calling in Budd's grandfather, an eighty-year-old stonemason, to help. The old man finished the project successfully. (See "An Handful With Quietness", by Patrick Knowles.)
In the second, unpublished, letter Lawrence discusses the installation of the hydralic ram to draw water from a stream on the nearby heath to the cottage. Lawrence showed himself more knowledgeable that the 'experts' this letters suggests be consulted. These experts were doubtful that one gallon per 70 seconds was sufficient to work the ram, but Lawrence was convinced that it would work with only a half-gallon per minute and was proved correct in his analysis. He even managed to use the ram to run his unique heating system.
'... My notion, therefore, is to pipe the overflow (after putting the spring itself in order) down to a ram in the brush below Mrs Knowles' house: then to take two pipes across the house end of her garden, under the road, and through my bushes to the cottage. One pipe to be the supply & the other the overflow: the overflow on its way back being taken to a tank near Mrs Knowles' kitchen door, so as to do her as well. ...'
Illustration is of a specimen page only