Georgina Howell’s Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

It could have made a good movie, Gertrude of Arabia. Lawrence of Arabia got a blockbuster movie with no women in speaking roles. That would lead you to believe that women had no interesting part in the Arab revolt in WWI. What a shame that Gertrude Bell’s role was completely overlooked.

Wikipedia’s article is a lot quicker to read than Ms Howell’s book. Snippet:

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell CBE (July 14, 1868 – July 12, 1926) was a British writer, traveller, political analyst, administrator in Arabia, and an archaeologist who found Mesopotamian ruins. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1917.

Bell and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) are recognized as almost wholly responsible for creating the Hashimite dynasty in Jordan and the modern state of Iraq. During her life, she was an unrecognised force behind the success of the Arab revolt in World War I. At the conclusion of the war, she drew up borders within Mesopotamia to include the three Ottoman Empire vilayets that later became Iraq.

Thanks to being born into an ungodly rich family, Ms Bell was able to spend all her time traveling and improving herself.

She spent much of the next decade traveling around the world, mountaineering in Switzerland, and learning archaeology and languages — Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian and Turkish.

Here are the Wikipedia tags under her entry:

Categories: 1868 births | 1926 deaths | British spies | Commanders of the Order of the British Empire | Drug-related suicides | English archaeologists | English explorers | English mountain climbers | English travel writers | Female wartime spies | Alumni of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford | Inter-War spies | World War I spies | Writers who committed suicide | Women in World War I | Explorers of Asia | Explorers of Arabia

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t love the book.


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Filed under arab, arabian, arabic, arabist, books

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