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Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell was an English traveller, writer, spy, archaeologist, administrator, photographer, political officer, explorer, and cartographer. Due in part to her extensive travels and network of people all over the world, she was a powerful and valuable asset to the British government, and was integral in developing the modern country of Iraq. 








Full Name Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell
Who traveller / spy / writer / politician
Birth Date July 14, 1868
Death Date July 12, 1926
Country England
Born Durham, County Durham, England, UK
Died Baghdad, Iraq
Cause of Death accidental overdose of sleeping pills
Education University of Oxford
Father Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet
Mother Mary Shield Bell
Spouse none
Siblings

Maurice Bell

Hugh Lowthian Bell

Florence Elsa Bell Richmond

Mary Katherine Bell Trevelyan

Children none


Connections

Bell was the granddaughter of Lowthian Bell.

Bell was the niece of Frank Lascelles, the British ambassador to Persia. He was very influential in her fascination and affinity toward Middle Eastern culture. After graduating university, in 1892, Bell traveled to Persia to visit him - the beginning of a lifetime of travel.

Bell was painted by Edward Poynter in 1876, with her father. She was 8 years old at the time.

Through the marriages of her half-sisters, Bell was the half-sister-in-law of both Herbert Richmond and Charles Trevelyan. 

From 1907 - 1909, Bell worked with William Mitchell Ramsay on archaeological excavations in Turkey. The projects were a major success, and they uncovered extensive ancient ruins. Bell wrote about this in her book A Thousand and One Churches

In 1909, Bell journeyed to Carchemish, where an ancient Hittite city was being excavated. She met the two archaeologists working there, one of them being T.E. Lawrence. They met again in 1915, this time in Cairo. Both were assigned to the British Army Intelligence Headquarters in that city. Lawrence and Bell had much in common, and both had unique ties to the Middle Eastern community. Because of this, they made a formidable team that even the agency recognized and valued. 

Bell was an acquaintance of David George Hogarth, Percy Cox, Arnold Wilson, Abdullah I of Jordan, and William H. Shakespear.

Beginning in 1913, Bell began a romantic affair with Charles Doughty-Wylie, though he was married. The two exchanged numerous love letters back and forth for two years, but never consummated their relationship. It ended in 1915. 

Bell was a friend of St. John Philby, and mentored him in behind-the-scenes politcal strategy. 

Bell was a friend and confidante of Faisal I of Iraq. She and Lawrence recommended him to the British government, encouraging support of his rise to ruler of his country. Once his reign was set in motion with the help of England, Bell became one of Faisal's most intimate advisors, and gave him much insight into the local politics. She also helped to choose his cabinet and other leadership posititions. Faisal became king in 1921, after much work and effort. Despite their friendship, Bell found the training of a ruler to be exhausting. Once he took power, she wrote in a letter "I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too great a strain." Out of her own personal artifact collection, Faisal helped Bell to found the Iraqi Archaeological Museum and to establish an archaeology school in Iraq. 


How Added - Through her acquaintance Octavia Hill, who was added via her housemate Sophia Jex-Blake, who was added via her friend Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was added via her sister Millicent Fawcett, who was added via her contemporary Camille Clifford.

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