A letter handwritten by Lawrence of Arabia 94 years ago is expected to fetch up to £6,000 when it goes under the hammer later this month.
The legendary army officer of the First World War, known professionally as T E Lawrence, wrote the famous letter to his pal Lt Colonel Stewart Newcombe in response to his request for Lawrence to be his first-born son’s godfather.
In the letter, dated February 16, 1920, Lawrence also responded to Newcombe’s request to name his son Lawrence by reflecting on the contrast between the way the world viewed him a hero and on how he himself regarded his wartime work.
"Of course Lawrence may have been the name of your absolutely favourite cousin or aunt, (observe my adroitness in sex), and if so I will be dropping an immodest brick by blushing – but if it isn't, aren't you handicapping 'it'?” Lawrence wrote.
“In the history of the world (cheap edition) I'm a sublimated Aladdin, the thousand and second Knight, a Strand-Magazine strummer.
“In the eyes of 'those who know' I failed badly in attempting a piece of work which a little more resolution would have pushed through, or left un-touched.”
Experts at Bonhams auctioneers in London describe the letter as “full of wit and good humour” but say “it also reveals a man troubled by his reputation as a living legend”.
In an intimate postscript to the letter Lawrence revealed, for the first time, his intention to change his name, but it was not until he enrolled in the RAF as ‘Ross’ in 1922 that he actually did so.
“Seriously I am changing my own name to be more quiet and wish I could change my face to be more lovely and more beloved,” he added.
Aside from being humble about his worldwide fame, Lawrence was positive about becoming a godfather.
“I shall be delighted to take it on,” he wrote, after musing on the meaning of “god-fathering”.
The letter is part of a large collection which belonged to Newcombe, his closest collaborator during his Arabian adventures, his most loyal friend and supporter, and one of the six pallbearers at his funeral in 1935.
The letter is expected to sell for an estimate price of £4,000 to £6,000 when it goes under the hammer at Bonhams sale of Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs in London on Wednesday, March 19.