T.E. Lawrence

An agitator in arabian robes


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In this episode we interview independent filmmaker Mark Griffin about his upcoming movie, Lawrence: After Arabia. Mark has been fascinated by Lawrence’s story for many years, and he shares his views on Lawrence and tells us about his film.

For more information about Lawrence: After Arabia you can check out the film’s website:


Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, was born in 1888, the illegitimate son of an Irish baronet.

Fluent in Arabic, he worked as an archeologist before joining the British army at the outbreak of the First World War.

Because of his language skills, he was sent to liaise with Arab rebels fighting against the Ottoman Empire.

He became an agent provocateur, fighting alongside the Arabs and orchestrating acts of sabotage behind enemy lines. He developed a deep appreciation for the Arab people and a strong sense of loyalty to their cause.

Winston Churchill at the Great Pyramids in Egypt in 1919, with T.E. Lawrence, second from the left. Churchill fell off his camel.

Winston Churchill at the Great Pyramids in Egypt in 1919, with T.E. Lawrence, second from the left. Churchill fell off his camel.

After the war, Lawrence worked with Winston Churchill to refashion the Middle East after the defeat and collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence came to feel that the Arabs had been unfairly dealt with by the British.

Lawrence became a celebrity after the war, with the iconic image of him in traditional Arab costume feeding into a popular fascination with the Middle East. The image was burnished when his book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, chronicling his work among the Arabs, was published.

Uncomfortable with his celebrity status, Lawrence rejoined the armed forces. He may have continued to work in espionage during this time - though this remains unclear.

He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1935. Just three months later, he was dead.

Lawrence’s beloved Brough motorcycle.

Lawrence’s beloved Brough motorcycle.

A passionate motorcyclist, Lawrence crashed and was thrown from his bike on a country road. He suffered a massive head trauma - he wasn’t wearing a helmet - and died six days later in an army hospital.

The British government and its domestic spying agency, MI5, quickly responded in the aftermath of the crash. The area was put under tight security and the media was told not to investigate.

A witness gave sworn evidence that a black car was involved in the crash - but this was dismissed by investigators and the vehicle was never identified.

Commenting on the death of his old comrade and friend, Churchill said: “Lawrence was one of those beings whose pace of life was faster and more intense than what is normal ... The fury of the Great War raised the pitch of life to the Lawrence standard ... In this heroic period he found himself in perfect relation both to men and events.”

Attribution for music used in this episode:

Assassinations Podcast Theme Music (Intro, Outro, and Transitions) written and performed by Graeme Ronald

"Spy Story" by Purple Planet is licensed under CC BY 3.0 / A derivative from the original work