how did gertrude bell die

She is buried in a British cemetery in Baghdad. Gertrude Bell led some impressive expeditions across the desert landscapes of the Middle East, but rarely was she without her baggage animals or a cart to carry her dinner service, provisions and equipment, and a servant (or two) to prepare her meals. It was inevitable that this would be greeted with further publicity and notoriety for Lawrence. She returned to Baghdad and soon developed pleurisy. ', An Archaeology of Children: finding childhoods in the past, Gertrude Bell: Love Through A Different Lens, Food in the Field: cooking and inclusive fieldwork practice, On the Incompleteness of Archaeological Narratives, Rape - the Use and Misuse of Narratives of Sexual Violence, 'A critical review of the interpretation of infant burials in Roman Britain...', 'Images and contexts of infants and infant burials...', Animal and Infant Burials on Romano-British Villas, Gertrude Bell - More Than A 'Free Booting Scholar', Gertrude Bell, Photographer - Jerusalem to Dead Sea, Gertrude Bell's Christmas in Bethlehem 1899, Gertrude Bell - in Search of the 'Real Woman', Gertrude Bell 1914-15 - Christmas in France, a New Year in Purgatory, The Intriguing Roman Villa at Norton Disney, Three Burials at Norton Disney & the End of Roman Villas, Romano-British Villas & Social Construction of Space, Animal and Infant Burials in Romano-British Villas (A 'Revitalisation' Movement? Her father married again when Bell was still a young child and the union added a half-brother and two half-sisters to the family. She was buried with honours in Baghdad that same day, her coffin draped with the British and Iraqi flags and carried by junior officers from the High Commission. Suicide was illegal, and I imagine there would have been a desire to protect her long-serving maid, Marie, from any criticism or punishment, as well as Bell's reputation and legacy. In her biography, Howell observes that Bell had sent him a note the day before she died, asking him to look after her dog Tundra 'in case anything happened to her'. Her death has been interpreted as a suicide, given her persistent health problems and the recent death of her brother. If you appreciated reading this article, please help to support this website by making a small donation. But either way, as Werr points out, "The Gertrude Bell story is definitely worthy of a film. Gertrude Bell: The Founder of Modern Day Iraq. Auden was a British poet, author and playwright best known as a leading literary figure in the 20th century for his poetry. I almost wish that something would happen - something exciting, a raid, or a battle! It's almost as though she were only 'free' to be exceptional, to have the limelight, to be an archaeologist, and to challenge the social mores of the time, when she were situated outside of England and in the Middle East, where women arguably had even less status than they did in England. Gertrude Bell’s brilliant career at Oxford, where she took a first in history in 1887, was followed by some time spent in Tehrān, where her Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her knowledge and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. But I think she was quite conflicted on the fairness of this, and 'performed gender' with class concerns being her driving force. But she had long realised that her sex disadvantaged her. British astrophysicist, scholar and trailblazer Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the space-based phenomena known as pulsars, going on to establish herself as an esteemed leader in her field. How much do you know about this ferocious queen of the desert? She had also travelled extensively in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Palestine, spending long days in the saddle in difficult terrain. Bell died of an overdose of sleeping pills on the night of July 11-12, 1926, at her home in Baghdad. Author's edits: minor typos corrected 17th June 2017, 10th October 2017 and 1st May 2018. She pioneered the idea of retaining antiquities in their country of origin rather than transporting them to European centers of learning. According to Gertrude, Ophelia had climbed into a willow tree, and then a branch had broken and dropped her into the water, where she drowned. Gertrude Bell was born on July 14, 1868 and died on July 12, 1926. It was another change to the structures that held her world in place. It was reported that she had asked her maid to wake her - no suspicion of suicide was to attach to Bell, whatever her intention, nor to Marie. How someone died is not always relevant to how they lived; but in the case of Gertrude Bell, I believe that the circumstances of her death tell us a great deal about how she felt about her own life - which in turn casts light on a whole host of historical contingencies of that era, not least the impacts of class and sex, during a time when the Middle East was being carved up and re-plated for Western consumption. But the complicated nation-builder from a British steelmaking background was so much more than that: a fearless, turn-of-the-century mountaineer conquering Alpine peaks; a desert explorer and cartographer; a spy, wartime political operative and soldier; a writer and an archaeologist who spoke six languages, including Arabic. In 1926, given Bell's state of health, I'm guessing she felt that sensation that becomes ever-more present each day, that one's body is detaching from one's mind. In 1917, British forces captured Baghdad. She traveled the world, gained enormous power and even helped build a country from scratch. The museum collections were damaged in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States. Will Martin answered . Your loving daughter Gertrude'. Prior to 1911 and her third major journey across the Middle East, at the age of 43, she had recorded ten mountaineering first ascents in the Bernese Alps. Gertrude Bell return to Britain in 1925, where she faced family problems and ill health. Her archaeological contributions were significant as well. © 2021 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. There are two ways of profitable travel in Arabia. In her last two letters home to her father and step-mother, written on the 7th July, five days before her death, she gives the impression of being worn down whilst trying to be upbeat, of being tired and weary of the daily grind whilst trying to talk up her achievement of founding the museum - and of being permanently conscious of the need to try to escape the heat. Gertrude Bell return to Britain in 1925, where she faced family problems and ill health. On both occasions she passed through London and had ample opportunity to visit the Society, but there is no record in her papers that she did so. Finally, on July 12 th, 1926, Gertrude Bell passed away. 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. There, she collaborated with famed British traveler T. E. Lawrence to try to forge alliances with Arab tribes. She was born July 4, 1895 in McCartney, Pa., the daughter of the late Frank and … The Cambridge City (IN) Tribune, Thursday, November 5, 1891 Miss Gertrude Bell, daughter of Wm. Gertrude was the wife of William Bell She was the daughter of Frank and Harriet (Cross) Pusey Obit Shinglehouse - Mrs. Gertrude Pusey Bell died at St. Francis Hospital (Aug. 21, 1961). 7. She'd felt the casual, cold hand of misogyny even when at her most influential and hard-working. We strive for accuracy and fairness. It can be dislocating and depressing, and there is some evidence in Bell's letters home that she was very unhappy. She been prescribed the drug that eventually killed her, Dial (diallylbarbituric acid or allobarbital) at some point prior to her death. She wrote a book about her experiences called Persian Pictures, A Book of Travelsthat was published in 1894. The Gertrude Bell Papers comprise Gertrude's personal correspondence, diaries and miscellaneous items, such as Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia (1920), notebooks, obituaries, lecture notes and miscellaneous reports, memoranda and cuttings. When did she die? In 1892, Bell graduated with honors from Oxford and shortly thereafter traveled to Tehran, Iran, where her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles, was serving as British minister. But attention for simply being Miss Bell the political officer wasn't enough. Mark Sykes used language about her that could only have been applied to a woman: 'Confound the silly chattering windbag of conceited, gushing, flat-chested, man-woman, globe-trotting, rump-wagging, blethering ass!' That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream. Gertrude Bell has 67 books on Goodreads with 7160 ratings. Gertrude Bell, a woman of enormous heart and whirling head, of the book said, "Approved: all but the libellous, untruthful description of yourself." Further correction 13th Oct 2018 - thanks to sharped-eyed Cathy McSweeney. Did he have suicidal intentions of his own that day? Gertrude Bell's funeral, Baghdad, 12th July 1926. Gertrude Bell's first love, however, was always archaeology, and as Honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq, she established the now world-famous antiquities museum in Baghdad. Her 58th birthday was looming, and the well of validation was running dry. This article was most recently revised and updated by Chelsey Parrott-Sheffer, Research Editor. And she'd seen T E Lawrence - a man 20 years her junior, born outside of her privilege - match her fame following what was only a very limited publication in 1922 of The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom about his role in the Arab Revolt during WW1, subsequent to the sensationalising of his exploits by journalist Lowell Thomas. They would only serve to pass the time, and leave as little profit as before ... it's a bore being a woman when you're in Arabia'. Lawrence then kept a fairly low profile for a while, partly due to imposed changes to his military career, but in the years between 1922 and 1926 he had been hard at work on a corrected version of Pillars which was intended to reach a wider audience - an abridged version titled Revolt in the Desert. Photo: Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University. It's not a typical formal Bell view of a building or a place - it's a thoughtful, intriguing composition. Link edits 17th November 2018. One example of their attitude towards the new order will be enough to show their quality. Gertrude Bell was the youngest woman to graduate with a first-class honours degree in modern history from Oxford University. Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, spy and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her knowledge and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.' Personally, I think Bell got shunted aside by the countries she served, and by the people she trusted - and, for reasons perhaps of a sense of social obligation, she didn't want to bother her family directly with her pain and so she put literal distance between them. The remains were brought here Tuesday, and services were held at … Bell wanted Doughty-Wylie to leave his wife for her, and his wife threatened suicide if he did. Gertrude Bell became the first female to get a first-class degree in modern history at Oxford. Gertrude Bell was also listed as an explorer and archaeologist among her many achieved duties. And I think I've finally found the connection that was missing. The worst-case scenario for me is if Gertrude Bell's step-mother knew that she was probably going back to Baghdad to die, or even tacitly encouraged her to do so rather than her dying of cancer at home in England - and then kept that knowledge from her father. She argued that the vast majority of her contemporaries lacked the education and knowledge of the world necessary to participate meaningfully in political debate. When Gertrude Bell's uncle was appointed Minister in Tehran in 1891, she declared that the great ambition of her life was to visit Persia. Recommended book “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations” by Georgina Howell . Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, spy and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her knowledge and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. In the final years of her life, Bell suffered several health issues as well as a dwindling fortune. When she recovered, she heard that her younger brother Hugo had died of typhoid. The family were heavily involved with the industrial development of the north-east of England, and after the first world war they lost much of their fortune to death duties and increased competition in the iron and steel industry. And so began a lifetime of travel and a lifelong enchantment with what she saw as the romance of the East, which evolved into a deep understanding of its cultures and people. 'a profound doubt as to whether the adventure is, after all, worth the candle. Share with friends 5. Bell's works published during the two decades preceding World War I include Safar Nameh (1894), Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), The Desert and the Sown (1907), The Thousand and One Churches (1909) and Amurath to Amurath (1911). On Monday July 12 1926, quite suddenly, Gertrude Bell died. She pushed herself with extreme challenges which would have led to intense adrenaline highs. Circa. She broke the ultimate glass ceiling by becoming a friend and confidant to numerous sheiks in Mesopotamia, with enough influence to be considered one of the founders of the country of Iraq. She was the only woman present at the 1921 Conference in Cairo, convened by Winston Churchill to determine the boundaries of the Iraqi state. The need for this drug alone suggests that Bell was very unwell, as the side-effects would have outweighed the benefits were this not the case. Gertrude Bell: 'cultivated' Jews of Baghdad "The Jews form a very important part of the population, rich, intelligent, cultivated and active. In 1899, Bell returned to the Middle East and visited Palestine and Syria, touching off a period of sustained travel there and in Asia and Europe. Early Life . Bell was buried in Baghdad’s Bad al Sharji district. "Gertrude Bell, happily for her family and friends, was one of the people whose lives can be reconstructed from correspondence. Gertrude Bell studied history at Oxford and embarked on a career as a writer, traveler and archaeologist. It is unknown whether the overdose was an intentional suicide or accidenta… It's clear I can't take that way; the fact of my being a woman bars me from it. Who is there in my life? But Gertrude’s parents refused to give her permission to marry him, and he died of pneumonia around a year later. Her Father was an industrialist and her Mother sadly died when giving birth to Gertrude's younger brother. Why would a woman as brilliant as she - as accomplished, as well-known - either take her own life or be so reckless with the risks of such a large and lethal dose of sleeping pills? As a British political officer in the Middle East, largely unexplored by the West at that time, exploration was a necessity in her work. Bell enjoyed the attention she received as a special woman in a world of men in the Middle East - attention she received from Europeans and Arabs alike. Distance was the metaphor of her life, from her early 20s onward. “There is a willow grows aslant a brook. The constraints of western clothing and the framework of the western working day - which we seem to take everywhere with us, at least partly -  make everything seem ten times worse. Bell gained her first exposure to politics and world affairs through her grandfather and his associates. Within a year Gertrude Bell was called to the Middle East to serve the British administration – where, in Baghdad, after a series of notable geo-political accomplishments, she died just a decade later by her own hand. "At dusk the mist hangs in long white bands over the water; the twilight fades and the lights of the town shine out on either bank, with the river, dark and smooth and full of mysterious reflections, like a road of triumph through the midst." Gertrude Bell in 1921 - the only woman at the Cairo Conference, Also of interest is that fact that whilst she was only the third woman ever to be elected to the Society of Antiquaries of London, there is no evidence that she ever took any advantage from this membership or visited Burlington House whilst in London in 1925. Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was born on July 14, 1868 in what is now Dame Margaret Hall on The Avenue in Washington Village, the daughter of local bigwig Sir Hugh Bell and his wife Mary. Though the famous bell within Alice rang for the genius of Gertrude and others, she had her own genius, revealed in these chatty, fascinating letters written during the twenty years after Gertrude's death in 1946. Her choices for relationships showed an uncharacteristic lack of judgement, notably her adoration of the married Dick Doughty-Wylie, and, in later years, for the married Ken Cornwallis. Cox, who sought her counsel, was long gone. She was unlucky again, some years later, when she fell deeply in love with the already (and slightly unhappily) married Major Dick Doughty-Wylie. Her personality was characterised by energy, intellect, and a thirst for adventure that shaped her path in life. When did she die? Her family's fortune had started to decline due to the onset of post-World War I strikes. The British intelligence bureau in Cairo hired her as an advisor on Arabia. James Buchan describes her as 'the greatest woman mountaineer of her age'. And what if Cornwallis knew of her illness also, and distanced himself ... and Faisal was absent, too. Neither did. Gertrude Bell : biography 14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926 Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, archaeologist and spy who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her skill and contacts, built up through extensive travels […] She had always been able to solve a problem, to punctuate boredom, to remove herself from awkward situations, to find a better place, by going on a journey. What do ineffective archaeologists want with battles! Young Gertrude was born in 1868 in County Durham in the North East of England. Whilst far from even approaching being poor - she left £50,000 in her will to the Baghdad Museum - she was unusually feeling a pressure to be (or be seen to be) 'salaried'. The literal heights she scaled and emotional low she felt… Official reports said that she died as a result of archaeological work in the grueling heat of the desert. Kristen Bell is an American actress known for her roles on TV's 'Veronica Mars' and in such films as 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' 'Couples Retreat' and 'Get Him to the Greek.'. During the spring of 1900 she went to visit t… The death of Gertrude Bell on the 12th July 1926, from an overdose of 'sleeping pills' in her bedroom in Baghdad, is now well documented in her biographies, and in more recent years it has certainly been fairly openly discussed in terms of suicide. Her 'work' had rarely been paid work, and the archaeological expeditions and the photographic travels were privately funded. The sights and experiences of WW1, the Arab Revolt of 1916, and the Armenian Massacre (about which she wrote vividly), may well have left its mark on Bell. “I think his life had become impossible; either his wife was threatening suicide or his love Gertrude was threatening suicide. She was aware that she was starting to be regarded by men whom she thought of as her social and intellectual inferiors as being insufferable. This biography has been revised and updated for a new generation and a new political reality. So she knew that being exceptional doesn't change the over-arching culture one is in. The heat in the Baghdad summer would have been stifling. But on her last visit home he was preoccupied with family business and labour disputes. I wonder if we should be happier too if we thought we were all to meet again.'. This trip sparked her interest in the Middle East, the region on which she would focus much of her energy for the remainder of her life. This way I can keep a quality website alive and provide further free content about Gertrude Bell and T E Lawrence, Many thanks. It began just a few months after the outbreak of the Great War in the summer of 1914. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: National Museum of Iraq Her writings on her experiences across the globe informed British audiences about the distant parts of their empire. I understand the sensitivities that previously existed around this, particularly for the surviving family members. Gertrude Bell followed where her curiosity led in ways no woman had before. Gertrude Bell had two epic romances, to be sure. Her day to day life was labelling exhibits in her museum - quite the come-down for the trained archaeologist and the brilliant intellect upon which others had previously relied. Thursday & Friday, 12 & 13 September 2013, 9.30am to 5.30pm/9.30am to 4.00pm Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH. Bell, out of all the British advisers in Arabia, had wanted to keep the British promises over the region and pushed for an independent state. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Her father was Sir Hugh Bell, a baronet who was a sheriff and a justice of the peace before joining the family manufacturing firm, Bell Brothers, and gaining a … It’s an intriguing story … and we have her letters, Gertrude Bell, Photographer - from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Sources and acknowledgments: Ella Ravilious's blog for V&A on Gertrude Bell at Hatra; James Buchan's 'Miss Bell's lines in the sand' in The Guardian 12 March 2003; Pat Yale's 'Gertrude of Arabia: the great adventurer may finally get her museum' in The Guardian 9 August 2016; Janet Wallach 1996 Desert Queen - the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell: adventurer, adviser to kings, ally of Lawrence of Arabia; Georgina Howell 2006 Daughter of the Desert - the remarkable life of Gertrude Bell; Jeremy Wilson 1989 Lawrence of Arabia - the authorised biography of T E Lawrence; Jeremy Johns [undated, poss circa 1989] unpublished address on Gertrude Bell and the Gertrude Bell Archive at Newcastle University, given to the Society of Antiquaries of London;  H V F Winstone 1980 Gertrude Bell. Her family's fortune had begun to decline due to the onset of post-WWI worker strikes in the UK and economic depression in Europe. She returned to Baghdad but soon developed pleurisy, an inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs. What lies in my future? A barbiturate, it was used at the time as a sedative, as well as an anti-convulsant and in pain relief. In 1914, she wrote of. Gertrude Bell, courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University. If you do fall ill, it's really hard to recover if there are times of the day where you never feel cool; and it's hard to sleep and feel properly rested. Bell remained in Baghdad after Faisal's 1921 ascension, working to fund and construct an archaeological museum. Gertrude Bell - in Search of the ‘Real Woman’, Short review of the film 'Queen of the Desert’. They ordered her home instead (the young man died nine months later). Gertrude Bell : biography 14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926 Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, archaeologist and spy who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her skill and contacts, built up through extensive travels […] Short Biography. She traveled the world, gained enormous power and even helped build a country from scratch. She spent the years before World War I traveling around the world and developing a passion for archaeology. 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