Heroes of: Gertrude Bell

Bell both stud­ied and made his­tory

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Gertrude Mar­garet Lowthian Bell is born on 14 July in County Durham in the north­east of Eng­land.


She be­gins study­ing at Ox­ford Univer­sity and be­comes the first woman to get a first-class de­gree in mod­ern his­tory.


Her first book, Per­sian Pic­tures, is pub­lished, doc­u­ment­ing sto­ries and pho­tos from her trav­els.


Bell makes her first jour­ney to the Mid­dle East and vis­its Tehran, where her un­cle is a Bri­tish diplo­mat.


Af­ter Bri­tish troops take Bagh­dad, Bell is ap­pointed as ori­en­tal sec­re­tary, re­spon­si­ble for re­la­tions with the Arab pop­u­la­tion.


Bell at­tends colo­nial sec­re­tary Win­ston Churchill’s Cairo Con­fer­ence to es­tab­lish the bound­aries of Iraq.


She opens the Bagh­dad Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum, later re­named the Iraqi Mu­seum, to pre­serve Me­sopotamian his­tory.


On 12 July, Gertrude Bell dies aged 57 from an over­dose of sleep­ing pills in Bagh­dad.

Gertrude Bell was an ar­chae­ol­o­gist, lin­guist, ex­plorer, moun­taineer, writer, pho­tog­ra­pher and po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cer Gertrude Bell (cen­tre) with Mr and Mrs Win­ston Churchill (left) and Lawrence of Ara­bia (se­cond from right) in Egypt, 1921

Bell en­joy­ing a pic­nic with Iraq’s King Faisal (se­cond from right) in Saudi Ara­bia in 1922

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