Indeed, during the First World War, while based in Baghdad, she was recruited by British intelligence. Gertrude Bell (1858–1926) was an English explorer who travelled through the Middle East. 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 made her debut in the desert at the age of 32. 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. 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. She was born into a wealthy and privileged family in the North East of England but chose to spend much of There she met a young diplomat and wrote to her parents asking for permission to marry him. She travelled around Mesopotamia, crossed the Syrian Desert and went up and down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. 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). Here is everything you need to know about one of Britain's cultural icons. 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. A true visionary, she advocated for Iraqi self-rule and openly criticized colonial policy. 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. 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. 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. Gertrude Bell is someone who made a great difference to British interests in the near east and Middle East. 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 … It is unknown whether it was intentional suicide or not, as she had asked her maid to wake her. As a British political officer in the Middle East, largely unexplored by the West at that time, exploration was a necessity in her work. All other images courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University. For other inquiries, Contact Us. Categories: Artists, Leaders & Rulers, OtherTags: 20th century women, english women, women adventurers, women archaeologists, women photographers, women spies. She studied history at Oxford University before embarking on a career as a writer, traveller and archaeologist. Gertrude herself commented with amusement on the assumptions of the day. On July 12 1926, she was discovered dead in an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. 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 … Gertrude Bell in Iraq in 1909 age 41. 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. 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. She wrote a book about her experiences called Persian Pictures, A Book of Travelsthat was published in 1894. Bell was interested in learning about the people and history of the region. In 1899 Gertrude Bell visted Palestine and Syria, with her writings and experiences informing British audiences about the distant parts of their empire. It is interesting but not surprising that Gertrude Bell’s achievements have been largely ignored in British History. 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). In 1899 Bell studied Arabic in Jerusalem. Bell’s curiosity about the Middle East went way beyond tourism. Gertrude Bell return to Britain in 1925, where she faced family problems and ill health. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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. View our online Press Pack. The meeting is Saturday August 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the Albany Veterans Center, 1325 Portland Avenue, Albany CA. 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. This was exciting to hear—until the character in the film went on to refer to Bell as a “he.”. Her name was Gertrude Bell, and a new documentary called “ Letters From Baghdad ” is reviving her memory. 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. A recent biography on T.E. 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. Indeed, it did not even give her the means to help herself back in Britain, where she felt the brunt of society’s misogyny. 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. “Gertrude had gone on such an orgy of independence,” her half-sister wrote, years after her death. News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. When she recovered, she learned that her younger half brother Hugh had died of typhoid. It began just a few months after the outbreak of the Great War in the summer of 1914. Gertrude Bell was astonishingly accomplished. Despite her own political achievements, Bell actively opposed women's suffrage in Britain. Bell was one of Britain's most famed icons and explorers of the Arabian Peninsula. Lawrence to try and forge alliances with Arab tribes. K. J. Wetherholt Gertrude was able to speak eight languages, including Arabic, Persian and Turkish, which enabled her to move freely in the Middle East. In 1921, Bell contributed to the construction of the Iraqi state, as well as the National Museum of 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. G ertrude Bell was a leading writer, explorer, political officer, archaeologist – and spy. Not really. Her expertise and love of archaeology led her become a champion for Iraq. 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 … 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. 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. 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. 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