This blog post was written by Victoria Collie, Special Collections and University Archives Intern.
An exhibit highlighting the Metcalf Collection of Books on T.E. Lawrence is now open on the main level of Payson Library. Housed in the Special Collections and University Archives, this is the first time the books have been on display. The book collection and associated Metcalf papers were donated to Pepperdine by Edwards H. Metcalf (1911-2001), a Pepperdine University board member and grandson of millionaire Henry Edwards Huntington. Metcalf was a T.E. Lawrence enthusiast, and helped plan Pepperdine’s T.E. Lawrence Symposium in 1988. The book collection alone contains over 400 books on Lawrence and the Middle East. If you would like to learn more about T.E. Lawrence and the book collection, check out the new InfoGuide! It provides a good starting place for research.
T.E. Lawrence, or “Lawrence of Arabia,” was an extremely intelligent and complex person, who seemed restless until he found his calling in the Middle East fighting alongside the Arab leaders during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. He had been familiar with the region before, taking several trips to the area and becoming used to the language and the Arab way of life. His use of guerrilla activities against the Turks during the revolt gained him sudden notoriety. After the war, he ran from his new found fame, using assumed names when enlisting in the Royal Air Force. He died in 1935 at the age of 46. Lawrence wrote a variety of works, including Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which is on display. Also included in the exhibit is his college thesis, Crusader Castles (1936). There are many controversies surrounding Lawrence’s career and life, but he will continue to be the subject of admiration and speculation for years to come.