Lawrence bought his first Brough in 1922, a few years after his exploits in the Middle East which gained immortal fame. He purchased a 'Mk1' model with JAP sidevalve v-twin engine (see below), and he became a devotee of the marque and a friend of George Brough. There have been rumors through the years that he never paid for his motorcycles or that they were gifts from his good friend George Bernard Shaw (whose play 'Arms and the Man' is one of my favorites), or that Brough himself gave them away for the publicity. These rumors have been denied over the years by George Brough himself, who steadfastly maintained that Lawrence paid for all his motorcycles from the proceeds of his books ('The Seven Pillars of Wisdom', and 'The Mint' - a sample from which I posted last year, which is one of T.E's best works).
Lawrence owned 7 Broughs sequentially, which he named 'George I' thru 'George VII' and number 8 (with a 'Two of Everything' engine) was being prepared for him at the time of his death on May 13, 1935. The motorcycle on which he crashed (wearing no helmet; he was trying to avoid two young bicyclists on a country road near his home in Bovington) was a '32 SS100 with JAP v-twin engine and Bentley & Draper rear suspension; it cost him £170 new. The motorcycle wasn't heavily damaged in the crash, and while a few of the original dents etc are preserved on the machine today, George Brough himself reparied many of the bent parts (footrests, kickstart, gearchange, and scuffed saddle).
The photograph above shows the bike being trucked away during the inquest into his death - as T.E.L. was a war hero and celebrity, there has been considerable speculation about the circumstances of his accident, and even today a small publishing industry is built around his story (and here I am contributing to the pile). There are many books about conspiracies and debunking themp even one solely about the crash per se (with the gramatically akward title of 'The Crash That Killed T.E. Lawrence').
Lawrence had a talent for writing, and 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom' is readily available if you have an interest - it recounts his remarkable story of being an underling in the Army (stationed in Cairo) who happened to speak Arabic, and was brought along with English military brass to translate negotiations with the Saudi tribal elders - including the future King Faisal (pictured below, with Lawrence behind, at the Paris Conference, 1919). The Arabs took a liking to Lawrence, as he apparently respected and had an interest in their culture (rather than a colonizer's attitude), and was rapidly given responsibilities as an envoy, and leader of a united band of Arab troops, fighting against the Ottoman Turks (who were aligned with Germany during WW1).
He proved extraordinarily successful in his guerilla tactics, and although he probably did little to help the greater cause of the Allies in the war, his exploits became a huge propoganda tool, and Lawrence 'of Arabia' became very famous. He had mixed feelings about his fame, and was a complicated figure psychologically, never truly emerging from the War as a civilian. He took assumed names and rejoined the military in the basic ranks, in order to hide within the system. Beyond this, he felt used and betrayed in the aftermath of the War, as he watched the Allies carve up the Middle East by creating politically convenient borders (for the Allies, not the residents), in contrast to many promises and assurances which had been given to the supporting tribes. And of course, those border decisions continue to haunt us! The places mentioned by Lawrence and his books (Basra, Mosul, Baghdad) were once exotic, but now have a far more ominous and personal meaning for us Yanks...
Enjoy this clip from David Lean's epic film, 'Lawrence of Arabia', with Peter O'Toole as the man himself (the Brough in the film isn't 100% accurate - but the idea comes across that TEL was nuts to ride so quickly through the English hedgerows).