16 August 2008

(Almost) Silent Sunday

My clever brother introduced me to Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), an extraordinary woman who happened to have red hair.

Among other accomplishments were her extensive camel treks in Arabia, acquiring knowledge of the desert tribes and fluency in their languages, prompting British Intelligence to hire her as a political officer during the First World War. During that time, she had some influence on the success of the Arab Revolt.

Before the war ended, she was appointed oriental secretary to the high commissioner in Baghdad where she had a profound effect. “Bell and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) are recognized as almost wholly responsible for creating the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan and the modern state of Iraq.”
Quote from http://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Bell.

The book cover photograph was taken at the Cairo Conference in 1921; Bell is between Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence.

Bell left thousands of now-rare photographs of Middle East antiquities. Her enduring love for the region and archaeology led her to found the famed Baghdad Archaeological Museum, now known as the National Museum of Iraq—the institution notoriously looted during the Iraq invasion of 2003 (although many pieces have been recovered). They can be seen at the site of the Gertrude Bell Project at http://www.gert.ncl.ac.uk.

Bell is buried in Baghdad.


Sheri said...


Is Gertrude an ancestress of yours? What an extraordinary woman.

Sheri Fenley

Brenda said...

Sheri, I wish. Our only common ground is being born with red hair and an affinity for camels .. two subjects this blog turns to at times :-}