While you may have enjoyed watching the classic 1962 award-winning film Lawrence of Arabia, you may not have known T.E. Lawrence was a real-hero whose own adventures and achievements the movie was based on. Was he truly as enigmatic as portrayed by Peter O’ Toole?
His Fame Found Him Early: T.E. Lawrence was 28 when World War I broke out, but he had already spent years four years working as an archeologist in Syria, cementing his reputation as an educated, intelligent, and creative individual. His understanding of the current political atmosphere of the middle-east earned his his assignment in military intelligence based out of Cairo, Egypt in 1916.
He was Raised by Both Parents: While the film inferred that Lawrence was born to an actress and raised by his mother, actually his father Sir Thomas Chapman left his wife to live with Lawrence and his mother. They sent him to Oxford High School and then Jesus College where he studied history.
The White Robes Really Existed: In the movie Lawrence is awarded a grand set of white robes after he led 50 soliders across the Nafud desert. Pictures of Lawrence adorned in the robes, including the ceremonial dagger, can be found in biographies of the gentleman.
He Died Young: Lawrence was fatally injured after taking his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle out for an afternoon ride in Dorset, UK in 1935. He swerved to avoid some pedestrians and was thrown over the handlebars. He was only 46 years old.
He Was an Author, Too: After he left the military, Lawrence penned an autobiographical account of his participation in the Arab Revolt entitled The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It is this book that the script for the film was based on.
He Never Married: There is no evidence that T.E. Lawrence ever become close with anybody throughout his life. There’s a notable lack of close school friends, affectionately held attachments or evidence of children born to him.
He Did Not Enlist: While some memoirs state he enlisted in the Royal Air Force before the age of consent, there are no military records to support the claim. He waited until the General List was put out in 1916 and was essentially drafted.
Both an Officer and a Working Man: During the Arab Revolt, Lawrence was quickly promoted through the ranks. He left to return in England in 1922 and was awarded the rank of Colonel in the British Army. However, after attending several political conventions, he enlisted in the RAF and remained a working man for the rest of his life.
He Led the Arab Revolt With No Battlefield Training: With a background in history and archeology, it came as quite a surprise when he created a number of effective battlefield strategies and carried out attacks throughout World War I in association with the Arab Revolt.