Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in Wales in 1888, and was educated at Oxford High School and at Jesus and Magdalene Colleges, Oxford. He was later made a research fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. From 1910 to 1914 he was an assistant in the British Museum's excavation of Carchemish on the Euphrates. He served with the British Delegation at the Peace Conference in 1919, and in 1921 was appointed Adviser in the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office, under Winston Churchill. In 1922, believing that British wartime obligations to the Arabs were fulfilled, Lawrence resigned and joined the R.A.F. secretly, under an assumed name; but he was soon discovered by the Press and discharged. He spent two years as a Private in the Tank Corps, before being permitted to re-join the R.A.F. in 1925. As a serviceman, he made a valuable contribution to the development of high-speed air/sea rescue launches. He retired from the Air Force in 1935, and died a few weeks later after a motorcycle accident near his Dorset cottage (now a National Trust property). Lawrence's major works include Seven Pillars of Wisdom (abridged as Revolt in the Desert), a prose translation of The Odyssey, and The Mint, a study of life in the ranks of the R.A.F. which was not generally published until twenty years after his death.