One of Britain’s most famed icons and explorers of the Arabian Peninsula, Gertrude Bell is well-known as Queen of the Desert. Gertrude Bell was a diplomat, writer and accomplished archaeologist born in the North East of England famed for her journeys to Arabia.

The movie “Queen of the Desert” was panned. It takes more than big name actors. After reviewing her life, it would take a very well thought out screen play to make sense of it all. I am fascinated by her and will try to review it. Click on the links to learn more. She’s been reincarnated in all the “girl’s who can’t be kept down.”

  • A marvelous tale of an adventurous life of great historical import, she has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born in 1868 into a world of privilege, Bell turned her back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author (of Persian Pictures, The Desert and the Sown, and many other collections), poet, photographer, and legendary mountaineer (she took off her skirt and climbed the Alps in her underclothes).

The lone female in the photo among diplomats and Military men

  • She traveled the globe several times, but her passion was the desert, where she traveled with only her guns and her servants. Her vast knowledge of the region made her indispensable to the Cairo Intelligence Office of the British government during World War I. She advised the Viceroy of India; then, as an army major, she traveled to the front lines in Mesopotamia. There, she supported the creation of an autonomous Arab nation for Iraq, promoting and manipulating the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the fledgling state.

In the Oscar-winning movie The English Patient, a group of British soldiers intending to cross the Arabian desert search for a route across a mountain range on their map. “The Bell maps show a way,” one promises. “Let’s hope he was right,” another responds. But the Bell maps weren’t created by a man at all.

Click links to learn more of her fascinating life.

Gertrude Bell: 7 Facts About Her Fascinating Life – Biography

Gertrude Bell (ncl.ac.uk)

In 2017, the Gertrude Bell Archive was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in recognition of its global significance. It is one of only a few archives to be recognized in this way in the UK. Find out more about the UNESCO’s recognition of the archive’s global significance in this press release.’

One of the things that brought attention to her was from the “Explorer’s Club” member Josh Gates (Expedition Unknown). She is not yet honored but there is a movement to make her an honorary member, long overdue. The newest honorees include 21 women. Stay tuned.

Gertrude Bell “Queen of the Desert,” middle east archeologist 1910’s, Mt climber, Explorer’s Club
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