Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926) was a truly extraordinary woman. I hope they’ll drop that source of wonder and pay attention to the report itself, if it will help them to understand what Mesopotamia is like. Storm Christoph replaced by 10cm blizzards across UK and more floods on the way, Boy, 11, dies as man in his 30s arrested over 'unexplained death', Covid hotspots revealed as interactive map shows infection rate in YOUR area, Scientists play down fears mutant Covid strain 30% more deadly after PM warning, Furloughed hairdresser makes £12K-A-DAY by starting beauty firm in lockdown, ©News Group Newspapers Limited in England No. That led her to a series of books on the region that got the attention of the British government when World War I broke out. All other images courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University. "The Sun", "Sun", "Sun Online" are registered trademarks or trade names of News Group Newspapers Limited. She helped place the Hashimite ruler Faysal I on the throne of Iraq in 1921. ”She was the only woman with a diplomatic role at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919”. Now the life of Gertrude Bell is being revealed in a new documentary following her exploits in the Middle East with Lawrence of Arabia and her work for British Intelligence during the First World War. As the first female British intelligence Officer and adviser on Arabian affairs to the British government, Bell helped shape the geopolitical map of the world as it changed dramatically after World War I. Born on 14 July 1868 in Washington New Hall in County Durham, to a wealthy family whose riches ensured her education and enabled her travels. The first woman to do a solo journey into the uncharted Arabian desert (she traveled by camel for 1500 miles across Central Arabia in 1914 and received the gold Founder’s Medal from the Royal Geographic Society); The first female Intelligence officer employed by the British Military. During World War I, Bell worked for the Red Cross in France before joining the British intelligence unit in Cairo. It was here that she collaborated with famed British traveller T.E. In 1899 Gertrude Bell visted Palestine and Syria, with her writings and experiences informing British audiences about the distant parts of their empire. Not only were they colleagues from their days as archaeologists and worked together in the Arab Bureau in Cairo, but as General Gilbert Clayton, of the British Military Intelligence, stated, her maps of the Hejaz became of “signal use” in the famous Arab revolt. In celebration of Women’s History Month, Letters from Baghdad is launching a Kickstarter campaign with the theme Honor a Woman in your life. As academic institutions did not support women in archaeology at that time, Bell had to organize and finance her own expeditions and collaborate with professionals for her work to be recognized. Her efforts deeply changed the situation of Romania. Bell also participated in the drawing of borders in the Middle East; her reports from that time proved to be prescient, as she remarked on the likelihood that none of the possible borders and divisions would satisfy all factions and keep long-term peace. She became a witness to the Armenian Genocide while in the Middle East. Her family's fortune had started to decline due to the onset of post-World War I strikes. For today, Gertrude is mainly remembered as the woman who explored much of the Middle East, taking some of the earliest photographs of the monuments now being destroyed by Isis. Bell traveled to the Middle East for the first time in 1892 to visit her uncle, who was the British ambassador to Tehran in Persia (now Iran). Bell worked for the British government in Cairo, Egypt, during World War I and was fluent in Persian and Arabic. Indeed, during the First World War, while based in Baghdad, she was recruited by British intelligence. It remains a mystery, and a subject of much debate, as to whether or not her death was intentional. During the spring of 1900 she went to visit t… She wrote a book about her experiences called Persian Pictures, A Book of Travelsthat was published in 1894. A true visionary, she advocated for Iraqi self-rule and openly criticized colonial policy. Between visits to the Middle East, Gertrude Bell’s experience of war work in the south of England and in France was brief, but formative. British-born Gertrude Bell, also referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, was an adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force who travelled into the uncharted Arabian desert and was recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle East after World War I. Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was part proper Victorian and part modern woman. Gertrude Bell return to Britain in 1925, where she faced family problems and ill health. GERTRUDE Bell was an explorer, diplomat and writer born in the North East of England famed for her expeditions to Arabia. The biggest thing we learned about the Middle East of Gertrude Bell’s era was that it was a vibrant mosaic of different peoples living peacefully side by side. News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. Despite her own political achievements, Bell actively opposed women's suffrage in Britain. In 1899 Bell studied Arabic in Jerusalem. As one of the few people who knew the desert and its people, Gertrude was very useful. 679215 Registered office: 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF. And despite the fact that historians and the people of the Middle East have known her name for years, Bell is only just becoming a hot topic in the West. G ertrude Bell was a leading writer, explorer, political officer, archaeologist – and spy. In 1921, Bell contributed to the construction of the Iraqi state, as well as the National Museum of Iraq. That is what you are most likely to hear when you ask your Arab friends whether they know who Victorian-era British explorer, Gertrude Bell, was. Lawrence, perhaps better known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” in the Arab Bureau … Indeed, it did not even give her the means to help herself back in Britain, where she felt the brunt of society’s misogyny. To see all content on The Sun, please use the Site Map. She began World War I by working for the Red Cross, but in November 1915 she was asked to go to Cairo along with archaeologists and others, to make maps for the army. Lawrence doesn’t mention her name once, not even in a footnote. Check out Letters From Baghdad for more info, and to find out how you can help. The general line taken by the press seems to be that it’s most remarkable that a dog should be able to stand up on its hind legs at all – ie a female write a white paper. While Gertrude Bell was making waves in British political circles, this is not the work that drove her; Bell simply had a love and desire for travel and … Bell was the only woman working for the British government in the Middle East She worked with T.E. “Ah, Madame Bell”. For further details of our complaints policy and to make a complaint please click this link: thesun.co.uk/editorial-complaints/, Comments are subject to our community guidelines, which can be viewed, Gertrude Bell was an explorer, archaeologist and diplomat from Durham, Credit: Gertrude Bell Archive/newcastle university, Bell worked for the British government in Arabia, Credit: WARNING: Use of this image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture, Her story was the feature of a 2015 film starring Nicole Kidman and James Franco, Gertrude Bell with Haji Naji, an Iraqi farmer and friend of hers, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). Queen Marie of Romania was an instrumental diplomatic representative of Romania at the Paris Peace Conference, and, even though she was an unofficial one, she had meetings with the likes of Clemenceau, Wilson, Poincaré etc. Her name was Gertrude Bell, and a new documentary called “ Letters From Baghdad ” is reviving her memory. Gertrude Bell (1858–1926) was an English explorer who travelled through the Middle East. It is interesting but not surprising that Gertrude Bell’s achievements have been largely ignored in British History. Often considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire, Bell was an explorer, spy, archaeologist and diplomat who helped shape the Middle East after World War I. Elizabeth Chandler is an Executive Producer of Letters From Baghdad, an upcoming documentary about Gertrude Bell. Her expertise and love of archaeology led her become a champion for Iraq. Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University. K. J. Wetherholt “Gertrude had gone on such an orgy of independence,” her half-sister wrote, years after her death. Gertrude Bell return to Britain in 1925, where she faced family problems and ill health. Gertrude Bell lived in Baghdad serving in the British administration and as Honorary Director of the Baghdad Museum until her death in 1926 at age 57 from an overdose of sleeping pills. On the cover of this book is an arresting photograph taken in front of the Sphinx in March 1921, on the last day of the Cairo conference on the Middle East. Required fields are marked *. Gertrude Bell (second row, second from left) at the 1921 Cairo Conference. Bell was interested in learning about the people and history of the region. In remembering Gertrude Bell, renowned archaeologist Max Mallowan commented “no tigress could have safeguarded Iraq’s rights better.”. Having spent so many years traveling back and forth across the deserts, and having fostered strong relationships of her own in the pursuit of her obsession with the Middle East, Bell joined the British intelligence. By the early 20th century, she had become increasingly involved in the archaeological and political affairs of the Middle East. She took courses in archaeology and cartography, and she was an accomplished photographer. As a powerful official of the British administration in Baghdad after the first world war, Bell ensured that an Arab state was founded from the three Ottoman provinces of … Gertrude Bell in Iraq in 1909 age 41. However, in 1908, Bell became the founding secretary of the Anti-Suffrage League, and for years opposed women’s right to vote. Bell was involved in the political negotiations that divided the Arab world into new countries and established British political influence in the Middle East. Gertrude herself commented with amusement on the assumptions of the day. Categories: Artists, Leaders & Rulers, OtherTags: 20th century women, english women, women adventurers, women archaeologists, women photographers, women spies. British-born Gertrude Bell, also referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, was an adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force who travelled into the uncharted Arabian desert and was recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle East after World War I Gertrude Bell did a lot of good work in the Middle East, and were she still around today, she would have been able to use her diplomacy and political savvy to help resolve the many issues there today. Bell’s curiosity about the Middle East went way beyond tourism. The group became the Arab Bureau, responsible for military intelligence in the Middle East. Her close relationship with King Faisal also resulted in the founding of the Iraqi Archaeological Museum and an Iraq base of the British School of … On July 12 1926, she was discovered dead in an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. For other inquiries, Contact Us. In December 1920, now a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), her famous white paper “Review of the Civil Administration in Mesopotamia” was presented in both houses of parliament. In the 1996 Academy award winning film, The English Patient, one of the characters talks about the “Bell Maps”—a reference to Gertrude Bell and her maps of remote and uncharted desert regions. Gertrude made her debut in the desert at the age of 32. Gertrude Bell was the first woman to map Arabia, then navigated the male-dominated world of diplomacy, helping to create a new country: Iraq. The story will be told from the inside, with primary source materials including evocative archival footage of the period, the journals and writings of Bell and her contemporaries and her portfolio of more than 7,000 photographs. She was born into a wealthy and privileged family in the North East of England but chose to spend much of As a British political officer in the Middle East, largely unexplored by the West at that time, exploration was a necessity in her work. She drew the borders of Iraq, helped install its first king and established the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities which was infamously looted during the 2003 American invasion. Here is everything you need to know about one of Britain's cultural icons. Bell’s accomplishments easily equaled Lawrence’s — she traveled throughout the Middle East, became the first female officer in the British forces, and even helped draw the borders for present-day Iraq. Please click here for more information about Gertrude Bell, the film and the Kickstarter campaign: http://lettersfrombaghdad.com, Featured image of Gertrude Bell courtesy Wikimedia Commons. There she met a young diplomat and wrote to her parents asking for permission to marry him. I never heard of this amazing woman until I looked up Lawrence of Arabia and found her mentioned as his lover. Gertrude was able to speak eight languages, including Arabic, Persian and Turkish, which enabled her to move freely in the Middle East. When she recovered, she learned that her younger half brother Hugh had died of typhoid. The horrors she witnessed had a … The first woman to receive highest honors in Modern History at Oxford; The first person to climb all the peaks of the Engelhörner range in the Swiss Alps, one of which is named after her: “Gertrude’s Peak;”. She returned to Baghdad but soon developed pleurisy, an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs. In 1925, she drafted the new progressive Law on Antiquities that formally established Iraq’s control over its vast archaeological treasures and established the Baghdad Museum. Not really. It is unknown whether it was intentional suicide or not, as she had asked her maid to wake her. In 1915, both Bell and Lawrence were assigned to the Army Intelligence Headquarters in Cairo for war service, because of their extensive knowledge of the region and languages spoken therein. To inquire about a licence to reproduce material, visit our Syndication site. It began just a few months after the outbreak of the Great War in the summer of 1914. Her family's fortune had started to decline due to the onset of post-World War I strikes. They ordered her home instead (the young man died nine months later). Bell was one of Britain's most famed icons and explorers of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1892, Bell graduated with honors from Oxford and shortly thereafter traveled to Tehran, Iran, where her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles, was serving as British minister. She went to Oxford when few women attended, and then travelled the world falling in love with the Middle East. British-born Gertrude Bell, also referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, was an adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force who travelled into the uncharted Arabian desert and was recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle East after World War I. She argued that the vast majority of her fellow women lacked the education and knowledge of the world necessary to participate meaningfully in political debate. Your email address will not be published. This was exciting to hear—until the character in the film went on to refer to Bell as a “he.”. Your email address will not be published. View our online Press Pack. Academy Award winning actress Tilda Swinton narrates “Letters from Baghdad,” the true story of Gertrude Bell, sometimes referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia. Gertrude Bell. Gertrude Bell is someone who made a great difference to British interests in the near east and Middle East. Bell's father and step-brother at Hagar Qim. Our longtime editorial team member Diane Rooney is presenting her talk, "Gertrude Bell and the Great War in the Middle East" at the August meeting of the SF Bay Area Chapter of the World War 1 Historical Association. Lawrence to try and forge alliances with Arab tribes. This service is provided on News Group Newspapers' Limited's Standard Terms and Conditions in accordance with our Privacy & Cookie Policy. The precocious daughter of a wealthy industrialist family from northern England, her life was a series of “firsts”: Her archaeological contributions were significant as well. It is a rare instance when her name or acknowledgement of her work makes it into contemporary culture. If you want to understand what keeps going wrong in the Middle East, from Raqqa to Qatar, listen—at last—to what Gertrude Bell was saying 100 years ago. She was the only woman with a diplomatic role at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and the only woman invited by Winston Churchill to the Cairo Conference in 1921. Gertrude Bell was astonishingly accomplished. Notify me via e-mail if anyone answers my comment. To her parents she writes: “I’ve just got Mother’s letter of Dec 15 saying there’s a fandango about my report. Letters from Baghdad will be a 90-minute documentary that follows Gertrude Bell’s unprecedented rise within the all-male ranks of British Military Intelligence to the inner sanctum of power, and will shine a light on the tangled history of Iraq through a remarkable personal narrative. She studied history at Oxford University before embarking on a career as a writer, traveller and archaeologist. The meeting is Saturday August 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the Albany Veterans Center, 1325 Portland Avenue, Albany CA. She travelled around Mesopotamia, crossed the Syrian Desert and went up and down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Likewise, Bell's work was instrumental in bringing an end to the activities of "self-taught amateurs and treasure hunters" who dominated research in the Middle East before WWI (Fagan 2007, 155). She also championed education for Muslim girls, helping to establish one of the most progressive educational systems in the Middle East. She was one of the most powerful women in the British Empire in the early twentieth century, yet she has been overlooked in much of the history written about this period. A recent biography on T.E. 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