Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was a famous English traveler and spy who was born into a privileged family in Durham County, England.
Gertrude Bell's father was Thomas Hugh Bell, who came from a famous family. Her mother passed away when Gertrude Bell was just 3 years old. thereupon, his father Thomas married a few years later to the playwright Florence Oliffe, who came from a distinguished family. Having completed his primary and secondary education at various schools in London, Bell decided to go to Oxford University to study history. She spent a successful education period here and became the first woman to graduate from the school with the first rank.
From Oxford University to Arabian Deserts
Deciding to travel after graduating from school, Bell made numerous trips to Europe and later to the Middle East. Beginning to be interested in mountaineering and world tours in the following years, Bell went on two world tours in 1897 – 1898 and 1902 – 1903. After his visit to Jerusalem in 1899, he started to have a great love and interest towards Arabs. He traveled in the Arabian deserts and wrote articles describing desert life to westerners. The Arabs called her the "Daughter of the Desert" and the "Uncrowned Queen of Iraq".
Gertrude Bell came to Anatolia with her friend, archaeologist William Ramsay, in March 1907 and returned to England after a while. Later, in January 1909, Bell made a trip to Mesopotamia, during which he made important discoveries and investigations in Carchemish, which belongs to the Late Hittite period, and made short-term excavations in this region. Then he went to Babylon, the famous ancient city in Iraq.
Bell, who started to engage in various activities in the Middle East for the interests of England in the following years, is one of the founders and planners of the Middle East policy in the Middle East, in which the British are active even now. The Arab tribes in the Mesopotamian region engaged in provoking activities against the Turks. He also attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 as a delegate and worked to determine the borders of the Iraqi state.
When Gertrude Bell briefly returned to England in 1925, she was faced with family problems and health problems. His family's fortunes began to decline due to the onset of workers' strikes in Britain after the First World War and the economic depression in Europe. He returned to Baghdad and soon developed pleurisy. When she recovered, she learned that her younger half-brother Hugh had died of typhoid.
Gertrude Bell, who never married and was engaged only once, lost her fiancé during the Dardanelles Wars. It was understood that Bell, who was depressed due to loneliness and deterioration in his health, died due to an overdose of sleeping pills. There is much debate about his death, but whether the overdose was a deliberate suicide or accidental is unknown, as he is said to have asked his maid to wake him up.
Gertrude Bell was buried in the British cemetery in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji district. His funeral was a grand event attended by many people, including friends, British officials and the King of Iraq. It is said that King Faisal watched the event from his private balcony while his coffin was being transported to the cemetery. He left behind a large number of publications, especially describing historical artifacts and travels.
Nicole Kidman played Gertrude Bell in the 2015 US movie Queen of the Desert, written and directed by Werner Herzog.