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Jeremy Wilson, 1944–2017 Official Biographer of Lawrence of Arabia

Appreciation by PAUL ALKON

Jeremy Wilson’s death on April 2 was a sad loss for those interested in T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, their relationship, and their times. We are all the heirs and beneficiaries of Wilson’s superb scholarship. The indispensable biography of Lawrence remains Wilson’s 1989 Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T. E. Lawrence.

In 1971 Wilson edited Minorities, Lawrence’s private collection of his favorite poems, and provided an informative introduction to the book. After establishing Castle Hill Press, Wilson, working with his wife Nicole, published more than fourteen volumes of Lawrence works and correspondence containing much not available easily or at all elsewhere. Each volume is an example of impeccable scholarship as well as handsome printing and beautiful binding.

For Churchillians, the most immediately relevant of the Castle Hill volumes is T. E. Lawrence Correspondence with the Political Elite (2015). Other noteworthy editions include four volumes of correspondence with Bernard and Charlotte Shaw and the complete 1922 text of Lawrence’s classic memoirs Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published in two large volume with a third containing reproductions of the lavish portraits that Lawrence commissioned to illustrate the text. For information about these and other Castle Hill publications as well as useful information about Larence generally, please visit the website

One of Wilson’s accurate (& painless) history lessons, lavishly illustrated and great to have if you can still find a copy, is the catalogue he prepared for the National Portrait Gallery’s 1988–89 Lawrence of Arabia Centenary Exhibition in London. Wilson was also an adviser for the Imperial War Museum’s 2005–06 exhibition “T. E. Lawrence, the Life, the Legend.”

Wilson was a good friend to the International Churchill Society and gave an interview to the Churchill Bulletin in 2016 describing his life’s work. The year before, he contributed a short piece to Finest Hour describing an interesting discovery he made about an introduction Churchill “wrote” for a posthumous collection of letters by Lawrence and his brothers. Via his work and his presence, Jeremy Wilson was a fine teacher and invaluable resource for everyone interested in history and literature. He will be greatly missed.

Paul Alkon is Bing Professor Emeritus of English and American Literature at the University of Southern California.

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