Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 sweeping epic film that tells the story of controversial British Army officer T. E. Lawrence during Word War 1. The film concerns Lawrence’s struggle with divided loyalties for both the British Army and the members of the Arabian Desert tribes that he befriends. It’s widely considered one of the greatest films of all time and features such stars as Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn, Jose Ferrer and Claude Rains.
Lawrence’s death from a motorcycle crash is represented in the beginning of the film. He was just 46 at the time and had just left the service. I had always assumed he was a novice rider whose adventurous spirit got the better of him. The truth is that T. E. Lawrence was an accomplished rider. He owned eight Brough Superior motorcycles over the course of his life, the last of which had not yet been delivered at the time of his death.
Brough manufactured motorcycles in England from 1919 to 1940, most were custom-made and they were considered the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. The photo below is the actual Brough Superior SS1100 that Lawrence was riding in the crash that killed him. Apparently a dip in the road obscured two bicyclists whom he had to swerve to avoid. He was thrown over the handlebars and died six days later.
The reenactment of T.E. Lawrence’s death from the film: