Motorcycles

The Life and Times of Lawrence of Arabia

New Years Eve 1930 

I feel inclined to send a postcard to Sandwich [an address of Lady Astor's], explaining how much I enjoyed Cliveden and what an excellent ride back I had (including a race across the Plain with a sports Bentley: well, not so much a race as a procession for the Bent, which did only 88. I wished I had a peeress or two on my flapper bracket!)

Lady Astor, first British woman Member of Parliament, was a famous socialite of the day, extremely rich and influential. She frequently graced the flapper seat of his motorcycle.

Lawrence called all his Brough Superior motorcycles Boa - short for Boanerges, the sons of thunder.
They were numbered George I through George VII. George VIII was awaiting delivery, having already had the stainless steel petrol tank and other special parts from its predecessor fitted, when Lawrence shuffled off.

The novelist Henry Williamson, quoted in A Touch of Genius, says in a 1962 interview:
'Finally he turned up one Sunday, coming right across Dartmoor from Plymouth to North Devon, where I lived, on his ten horse power 100 mile an hour Brough Superior nickel-plated motor cycle ....'

One must really read the whole of the passage, quoted in part above, to get a sense of how impressed people were by the man. Lawrence turned down many laurels and appointments, among them an honorary Doctorate of Laws by St Andrew's University in 1930, and an offer of the Secretaryship of the Bank of England. On the 7th of May 1935, Lady Astor wrote to him: 'I believe when the Government reorganizes, you will be asked to reorganize the defence forces.' Again, he declined.

Seigried Sasoon says, also in a 1962 interview:
'He was almost like a too high powered motor bicycle, almost over-powered .... To call him a charlatan as some people have done is a wicked representation of the worst possible kind. Everything I know of his character belies it. He was absolutely true mettle all through.'

He was almost expelled from the Air Force in 1929 when as a lowly aircraftsman he was seen talking, apparently on equal terms, with the Italian Air Marshal, General Balbo.

3rd May 1934 
To George Brough 
..... 
It looks as though I might yet break my neck on a BS.

A Touch of Genius  p202
Most of the information on this page is from the same source.

These snippets will eventually be pieced together to give what I hope will be a meaningful picture of a man many regard as a genius. Certainly he is one of the most complex personalities of the modern age. Had he lived, he would have been a major player in WWII. Lawrence was not only a famous motorcyclist - he was a great motorcyclist.


The last known photograph of Lawrence.
Clouds Hill 1935

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