By Tim Lambert
Gertrude Bell was a great writer and archaeologist of the early 20th century. She was born in Washington, County Durham on 14 July 1868. Her father was the wealthy owner of an ironworks. Sadly her mother died when Gertrude was only 3 but her father remarried. Gertrude was a very intelligent woman and she was well-educated. She went to Queen’s College, Harley Street, London, a leading girls school. In 1886 she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. In 1888 she gained a first-class degree in modern history.
She went to Queen’s College, Harley Street, London, a leading girls school. In 1886 she went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. In 1888 she gained a first-class degree in modern history.
After leaving university Gertrude went on a tour of Europe. She returned to England in 1889. In 1892 she visited Persia. In 1894 she published a book called Persian Pictures.
Gertrude was also a mountaineer. She took up the sport in 1899 and in 1904 she climbed the Matterhorn, a notoriously difficult mountain to climb.
In the early years of the 20th century, Gertrude travelled widely in the Middle East and she wrote about her experiences. In 1907 she published a book called Desert and the Sown. She was also interested in archaeology and she studied the ruins of Byzantine churches. Her findings were published in a book called The Thousand and One Churches in 1909.
Gertude was also an anti-suffragist. Some women believed that women should not have the right to vote and they campaigned against it. In 1909 Gertrude became honorary secretary of the British Women’s Anti-Suffrage League. In the years before 1914, she campaigned against women’s suffrage.
When the First World War came in 1914 Gertrude got a job in admin for the Red Cross, helping to find wounded and missing soldiers. But in 1915 British intelligence needed people with expert knowledge of the Middle East. They hired Gertrude Bell. Following the end of the war in 1918 the Turkish Empire broke up. Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) came under British rule and Gertrude played a major role in the administration. She also played a role in diplomacy. Gertrude also founded a museum in Baghdad.
Sadly Gertrude died from an overdose of sleeping pills on 12 July 1926. She was buried in Baghdad.