Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell was one of the most extra-ordinary women the North East of England has ever produced. Amongst her many "achievements", was helping to draw the borders for what became the modern day state Iraq. The Getrude Bell Archive at Newcastle University reports she is:
...the subject of a new exhibition showing from 30 January - 3 May 2016 at the Great North Museum. It features content drawn from Newcastle University's Archive with significant loans from the British Museum, Imperial War Museum and others to tell her unique story of adventure, discovery, and political intrigue....
The more eagle-eyed geographers may spot the uncannily straight nature of some of the lines on the map below

Robert Fisk, that doyen of Middle East correspondents, wrote in 2004:

Bell attended Churchill's famous--or infamous--Cairo conference where the British decided the future of most of the Middle East. TE Lawrence was there, of course, along with just about every Brit who thought he or she understood the region. "I'll tell you about our conference,'' Bell wrote to a friend in her jolly hockey-sticks way. "It has been wonderful. We covered more work in a fortnight than has been got through in a year. Mr Churchill was admirable ..."
Fisk writes:
It quite takes the breath away; the British thought they could fix the Middle East in 14 days. And so we laid the borders of Iraq and laid out the future for what Churchill would, much later, refer to as the "hell disaster'' of Palestine....


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