11 March 1923

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

[11 March 1923] Baghdad March 11 Belloved Father. The first news I had of the poor Bowmans was from you. I telegraphed to him at once, and now I've written to him. What a terrible tragedy, they are really never out of my thoughts. I'm so glad you love them too so that we can sympathise with one another about them. Do you remember the picture of them and the children in their sunny nursery? I have many other mental pictures of them both in the days when they were here and I can't think of them not together. How dreadfully sad it is.

Mother's understamped letter didn't arrive last mail - I suppose it's wandering across the seas. I telegraphed to you agreeing to May 12 as a date to build on. Whether I shall fly or not I can't yet say - if I don't I should motor, either to Aleppo [Halab] or straight across the desert to Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)]. If the latter, perhaps you'll meet me in Damascus? I'll let you know in time how things are working out. It would be more convenient to come by air and I will if I can.

As you rightly guessed, the Daily Express article made me very angry. It's simply another form of attack and I think a very mean one. I'm helpless of course; to say it's all untrue would merely magnify the business. That it does me personally a great deal of harm I don't doubt. If I were Sir Henry I wouldn't keep on someone of whom people say that she runs the whole show, even though he knows, I feel sure, that I'm much more annoyed by it than anyone else. As someone observed, kings and women and comets and a few other things are for unaccountable reasons copy. I'm copy, that's all; and it's what I've taken the greatest care not to be.

Well now let's forget it. I've been largely busy with archaeology and archaeologists this week. Last Monday, the 5th, two other members of the Ur party came up, Mr Newton and Mr Lawrence. I had made arrangements for them all to go to Hatra [Hadr, Al], which was easy because the 'Iraq Army is on[?] L. of C. at Sharqat and a part of the Camel Corps at Hatra. We all had an early dinner together at Major Wilsons who took them to the train. I hear Mr Newton is coming back tomorrow so I expect my military arrangements were expeditious and satisfactory. It's very useful having the 'Iraq Army at one's beck and call.

Mr Woolley came up on Thursday and we've had great doings - the Army again co-operating. I got leave from the Ministry of Defence to hold a little exhibition of the things Major Wilson and I brought up from Ur - part of the 'Iraq share of the finds. And I bundled in 'Abdul Qadir Pachahji, an old thing who used to be in the employment of the C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)] museum and with his help and Mrs Drower's we laid all the objects out on tables and neatly ticketed them in English and Arabic. This took the whole of Friday afternoon. Early on Sat. morning I had a private view for the King, the Ministers and the notables, all of whom I had specially invited. It was a great success. Mr Woolley took the King round and explained to him what the things were, also showing him plans of the temples, while Mr Cook, Major Wilson and I did the same by the Ministers and notables. They were vastly impressed. In the afternoon Mr Woolley gave a public lecture, which he did very well indeed, to a crowded audience, English and Arab. We couldn't attempt a translation but most of the Arabs who came were the younger men who know some English, and at any rate they all saw the exhibition. In the evening Mr Woolley and the people he is staying with (Director of railways, namens Tainsh, and his wife) dined and I had the American consul and Mr Davidson foreby. So that was that.

But what is much more to the point is that I have got a new cook who is not only a darling old man but is also a really good cook, so that when people come to dinner I feel no qualms.

Previous page