Gertrude Bell and T E Lawrence did their best, whilst disagreeing over fundamental issues such as the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. Bell foresaw endless struggle and war – and what she saw in France, the fear and the grief and the pain and the suffering, especially of the young, made her wearily cynical of her generation getting it right. She died in 1926; but, like many, by 1915 she’d already seen and felt enough. It was far from ‘all over by Christmas’ - it was never over.Read More
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 circumstances 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.
I've studied Gertrude Bell's work for over 25 years. I never felt especially attracted or connected on any personal level to the woman who manifests herself in her writings, but was always fascinated by the richness of her archaeological and photographic output and how that legacy was handled. Yet, just lately, I find myself being drawn again and again to read about the circumstances of her death. I think I know why this is, and it certainly is personal - this year I'll be the age she was when she died. And I think I've finally found the connection that was missing.Read More