New exhibition: Lawrence of Oxford
Magdalen Libraries and Archives are delighted to announce the opening of our new exhibition. Lawrence of Oxford, opening to the public on 7 November in the Old Library, marks the culmination of two years’ intensive collecting around one of Magdalen’s most celebrated Old Members, T.E. Lawrence (better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’). It is a little-known fact that Lawrence was elected to a Senior Demyship at Magdalen in late 1910, and trained as an archaeologist on a British Museum dig in northern Syria as a member of the College until 1914 when the war broke out.
Co-curated by Dr. Rory McCarthy (Fellow by Examination) and Daryl Green (Librarian), Lawrence of Oxford will explore the influence Magdalen and Oxford had on this enigmatic figure’s early life. It will look at his efforts in the Arab campaign during the First World War, and his later political involvement with the region. It will also examine his work as an author, and those in Oxford whom he directly influenced. New display cases in the Old Library have allowed us, for the first time, to loan in items of national significance from institutions and private collections. The cases will feature archaeological remains excavated by Lawrence, stamps designed by Ronald Storrs and Lawrence for the independent Hejaz state, original manuscripts and letters from Lawrence, maps which influenced Lawrence’s career (as well as those drawn by him), letters and medals from fellow Arabist Sir Wilfred Thesiger, and much more.
The exhibition will open to the public on 7 November 2018 and will run until 1 May 2019. The exhibition in the Old Library is open every Wednesday afternoons from 2-4:30pm. Private viewings and group tours may be possible outside of this time, by prior appointment.
A series of talks have been arranged to run alongside the exhibition (details below). These are open to both University members and the general public. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP (events are free but seat reservations are essential).
“Lawrence of Oxford” events
(all events start at 5.30pm, and will take place in the Summer Common Room unless stated otherwise)
5 November 2018 (Magdalen College Auditorium)
Grand Opening, with talks by curators Dr Rory McCarthy and Daryl Green
21 January 2019
Lecture by Juliette Desplat (Head, Modern Overseas Intelligence and Security Records, The National Archives)
“Looking beyond hero-worship: The Other Lawrence”
In the popular imagination, Lawrence quickly became the hero of Arabia. There is, however, another, less glittery side to Lawrence’s war – punctuated by failures and frustrating episodes. This talk will look at these lesser known aspects of Lawrence’s War. First, his time with the Arab Bureau in Cairo, where he joined other archaeologists and intellectuals recruited by David Hogarth to gather intelligence throughout the Middle East. Then, his failed mission to Mesopotamia, where he was sent as a liaison officer to relieve the siege of Kut by bribing the Turkish Commander. And at last his politics and endeavours to advance the Arab cause during the Peace Conference.
18 February 2019
Lecture by Dr Emma Sky, OBE (Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University)
“In a Time of Monsters”
As a modern day colonial administrator in Iraq, and as a traveller through a Middle East in revolt, Emma Sky provides a first-hand account of how the Iraq War and Arab Spring led to ISIS and the Syrian Civil war, which created the refugee crisis in Europe, contributing to the rise of populism in the West.
Dr Sky is Director of Yale’s Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program and a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute, where she teaches Middle East politics. She is the author of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. Sky served as advisor to the Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq from 2007-2010; as advisor to the Commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2006; as advisor to the US Security Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in 2005; and as Governorate Co-ordinator of Kirkuk for the Coalition Provisional Authority, 2003-2004.
7 March 2019
Lecture by Anthony Sattin (journalist and author of Young Lawrence)
“Lawrence of the Levant”
Before he was “of Arabia”, TE Lawrence was “of the Levant”. The four years he spent in the Near East between 1910 and 1914 shaped his ambition, gave him motives and provided the skills needed for his war work. Anthony Sattin traces his development from the second son of an inconspicuous Oxford family to becoming Lawrence of Arabia.
2 May 2019 (Magdalen College Auditorium)
Special Guest lecture by Rory Stewart MP
Rory Stewart OBE MP, will close the exhibition with a talk on Lawrence, his influence, and his lasting legacy. Stewart is a politician, diplomat, and author, and since 2010 has been MP for Penrith and The Border, and Prisons Minister since 2018. In 2002 he embarked on a walking tour across Asia, including Afghanistan, and was a senior coalition official in Iraq from 2003-04; he would later write about both experiences. He has also contributed an introduction to the Penguin edition of Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands.
The talk will take place in the Magdalen College Auditorium (entrance on Longwall Street). This event is free, however booking is essential. RSVPs to email@example.com