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Perspective: Jeremy Wilson on The Legacy

A word of caution from Jeremy Wilson, author of Lawrence of Arabia (1989).

“A word of caution… If you take Lowell Thomas as your starting point, it’s easy to conclude that he invented Lawrence. Admirers of David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ tend to think, likewise, that nobody would have heard of him today, but for the film. They forget that Seven Pillars and Revolt in the Desert had been translated into numerous languages in the 1920s and 1930s, and that Seven Pillars had remained more or less continuously in print in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. In reality, Lawrence was already highly regarded in political circles before Thomas began lecturing. He wrote Seven Pillars before Thomas arrived in London. Thomas may have accelerated his leap to fame (while also distorting his reputation, it has to be said). But it seems to me quite likely that Lawrence would be known today even if Thomas had never existed.”