The Boy in the Mask
The Hidden World of Lawrence of Arabia
Publication Date: March 2016
This groundbreaking work chronicles the author’s quest to uncover previously unexplained areas of the life of T.E. Lawrence, the enigmatic desert fighter, aircraftman and writer. The result of years of painstaking research, it contains new material that throws a completely fresh light on Lawrence’s concealed private life. Following an extraordinary journey to find the unknown man behind the many myths, the book’s two halves are underpinned by the author’s personal mission to reveal the man behind the mask; the secret T.E. Lawrence.
Part One reveals Lawrence’s lost Irish heritage – his father’s real family (the aristocratic, Anglo-Irish Chapmans), his abandoned half-sisters (with evocative interviews), his illegitimacy, and his mother’s obscure forebears. The author shows, for the first time, that his concealment from his titled and wealthy Irish family affected Lawrence more deeply than previously thought; and a surprising truth emerges – that he thought of himself not as English but as Irish. This compelling narrative is powerfully supported by a wide range of unseen photographs. These include his Chapman family and forebears, views of Killua Castle and South Hill (the family seats in Westmeath), and of his time in the RAF during the 1930s.
The second part, which follows the author’s adventurous travels to the Middle East in search of the lost love of T.E. Lawrence, has a surprising dénouement – a convincing solution to the cryptic dedication to ‘S.A.’ of his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The author also presents new evidence to vindicate Lawrence’s account in the Seven Pillars of the brutal sexual assault on him at Deraa during the Arab Revolt of 1916–18, a controversial episode that has often been questioned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dick Benson-Gyles, who lives in Plymouth in the west of England, was educated at Marlborough and is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. A newspaper journalist for many years, specializing in sports and news coverage, he has also been an archaeologist in Baghdad and TV documentary presenter.