Payments to a mystery Miss Bryant confuse the legend of Lawrence
Wednesday 29 May 2002
The mystery surrounding the legend of Lawrence of Arabia, the great romantic hero of the First World War, has deepened with the release of confidential files to the Public Record Office.
Further debate among historians and biographers over Lawrence's private life is guaranteed by the revelation that he paid two thirds of his three- shillings-a-day (15p) salary to Ruby Bryant of 31 Portland Street, Newark. He made the payments between September 1925 and November 1926 while serving at RAF Cranwell as Aircraftman TE Shaw – an attempt to escape the fame generated by his exploits.
Miss Bryant receives no mention in any of Lawrence's biographies, indeed there is no record of Lawrence having had sex willingly with anyone – male or female – although he claimed to have been raped by Turks after his capture in 1917.
Lawrence also gave a W J Ross, of 76 Marsham Street, London, sixpence (2.5p) a day for a year after cancelling his payments to Miss Bryant. A further beneficiary of Lawrence's was his Scottish "minder", John Bruce, who received nine pennies (4p) a day. The men joined the Tank Corps together in 1923 after Lawrence's identity had been rumbled by the press. Lawrence subsequently transferred back to the RAF, successfully concealing his identity almost until the end of his service in 1935.
After Lawrence's death in a motorcycle accident that year, Bruce disclosed that his friend, who had a "flagellation disorder", had used to pay him to beat him with a birch. Some have argued that the "disorder" may have been the result of beatings he received when held by the Turks. His medical records offer some credence to the claim, revealing that he had "scars on both buttocks".
The files show a deeply unhappy man who could not live with the fame of his heroics as the leader of the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks and wished for anonymity.
They include one letter to the Air Ministry expressing his fury at an approach by the movie mogul Alexander Korda in 1934 proposing to make a film called Lawrence of Arabia. "Presumably he means me, and I have strong views as to the undesirability of any such film. So I have sent him word that perhaps he ought to discuss his intentions with me before he opens his silly mouth again," he wrote.
He also dismissed attempts by a former German lieutenant, Helmut Zimmerman, who had served in the desert, to contact him. "I do not discuss my part of the war with anyone, nor do I read about it: the whole subject is repulsive," he wrote.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...