Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian


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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian

(lō`thēən), 1868–1926, British traveler, author, and government official, one of the builders of the modern state of IraqIraq
or Irak
, officially Republic of Iraq, republic (2005 est. pop. 26,075,000), 167,924 sq mi (434,924 sq km), SW Asia. Iraq is bordered on the south by Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia; on the west by Jordan and Syria; on the north by Turkey; and on the
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, grad. Oxford, 1887. From 1899 on she journeyed extensively in Persia, Anatolia, and Syria and early in 1914 reached Haïl in the Arabian Desert. In World War I she placed her unmatched knowledge of Middle Eastern conditions and her fluent Arabic and Persian at the disposal of the British government and in 1915 was appointed to the intelligence service—the first woman to hold such a post. As liaison officer of the Arab Bureau in Iraq and assistant political officer, her aid was invaluable. She knew and worked with T. E. LawrenceLawrence, T. E.
(Thomas Edward Lawrence), 1888–1935, British adventurer, soldier, and scholar, known as Lawrence of Arabia. While a student at Oxford he went on a walking tour of Syria and in 1911 joined a British Museum archaeological expedition in Mesopotamia.
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 and was largely responsible for delineating Iraq's borders and for the selection of Faisal IFaisal I
or Faysal I
, 1885–1933, king of Iraq (1921–33). The third son of Husayn ibn Ali, sherif of Mecca, he is also called Faisal ibn Husayn. Faisal was educated in Constantinople and later sat in the Ottoman parliament as deputy for Jidda.
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 as the country's king. She also founded and directed the National Museum in Baghdad. Her writings include Poems from the Divan of Hafiz (1897), The Desert and the Sown (1907), Amurath to Amurath (1911), Palace and Mosque at Ukhaidar (1914), The Arab of Mesopotamia (1917), and Persian Pictures (1928; pub. anonymously as Safar Nameh, 1894).

Bibliography

See her Earlier Letters (ed. by E. Richmond, 1937) and Letters (new ed. 1947); biographies by J. Kamm (1956), A. Northgrave (1958), J. Wallach (1995), and G. Howell (2007).

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