Colonial Office, Downing Street, London: 17 July 1922. This is Winston Churchill’s 17 July 1922 autograph signed letter to T. E. Lawrence accepting Lawrence’s resignation from the Colonial Office, accompanied by the original, franked envelope addressed and initialed in Churchill’s hand. This letter underscores the friendship and collaboration of two titanic twentieth century personalities and their shared work in securing post-First World War peace and political stability in the Middle East.
From early 1921 to mid-1922, T. E. Lawrence “of Arabia” worked for then-Secretary of State for the Colonies Winston S. Churchill. Churchill had asked a reticent Lawrence to commit for a year. He gave Churchill more than he had promised, both in time and in achieved outcomes. Then, in July 1922, Churchill reluctantly released Lawrence from service.
The autograph letter signed by Churchill fills the entire 8 x 10 inch (20.3 x 25.4 cm) front panel of a single, folded sheet of Churchill’s “Colonial Office. Downing Street, S.W.1.” stationery with the Colonial Office embossed seal at the top center. Dated “July 17, 1922” with the salutation “My dear Lawrence”, the letter reads: "I very much regret your decision to quit our small group in the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office. Your help in all matters and your guidance in many has been invaluable to me & to your colleagues. I should have been glad if you would have stayed with us longer. I hope you are not unduly sanguine in your belief that our difficulties are largely surmounted. Still, I feel I can count upon you at any time where a need may arise, & in the meanwhile I am glad to know that you will accept at least the honorary position of Advisor on Arabian Affairs." The two-line valediction is “With every good wish | yours sincerely” followed by Churchill’s signature, "Winston S. Churchill". At the lower left corner is written “Lt Colonel T. E. Lawrence.”
Accompanying the letter is the original, 8.875 x 3.75 inch (22.5 x 9.5 cm) franked envelope in which it was sent. The envelope flap features the same embossed Colonial Office seal as the stationery. In four lines, the letter is addressed: “Lt Colonel T. E. Lawrence | 14 Barton St | Westminster | S.W.1.” – the address of the attic room which was Lawrence’s London base for several years. Churchill initialed the lower left of the envelope “WSC”. The red ink “PAID” stamp at the upper right indicates that the letter was posted at “8:15 PM” on “JUL 18 1922”.
Condition of the letter is excellent, clean and complete, the ink distinct. The envelope is likewise complete, albeit of course slit and showing minor wrinkling and soiling.
Both the letter and envelope are archivally framed with the visually striking intaglio drawing of Lawrence and Churchill by Curtis Hooper (1945-2020), who worked closely with Churchill’s daughter, Sarah (1914-1982) to produce a series of limited edition prints featuring Churchill in the 1970s. The larger versions of these prints, of which this is one, measure 22.5 x 34.5 inches (57.2 x 87.6 cm), limited to no more than 400 copies, each signed and numbered by Sarah. This print is numbered “287”.
The professional, archival framing meticulously preserves the integrity of all three constituent items – letter, envelope and print – with non-adhesive mounting and acid-neutral matting. Letter and print are secured with mylar corner sleeves, so that they are both secure in the framing and readily removable. The print of Lawrence and Churchill is untrimmed and unaltered, Sarah Churchill’s limitation number and signature obscured but still present beneath the matting. Double-matted windows separately frame the image of Churchill and Lawrence, the letter, and the envelope. The solid, beautifully grained, wood frame measures 31.25 x 41 inches and is glazed with UV-filtering acrylic.
Considerable supplementary information is available upon request. Item #007260