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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Balfour, Frank
Asquith, H.H.
Willcox, Henry
Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Margoliouth, David Samuel
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Jan 3. Dearest Mother. No mail this week, but on the chance of an outgoing boat I make haste to wish you and all of us a good new year. We've had a very gay Xmas - I've been to no less than two parties, at hospitals. The first was on Xmas Day, did I tell you about it? no that, by the way, was a dinner party at the C in C's house. The first hospital party was on the 28th and I distinguished myself by coming out victor at Musical Chairs - contra mundum. The second hospital party was on Jan. 1 - a ball, I would have you know. In the intervals between dances on a stone floor, no small exertion, I nearly died of cold and I did not stay very late. Except for the cold it was quite cheerful. But far more interesting was a lecture given one afternoon last week by Prof. Margoliouth (he's professor of Arabic at Oxford and is out here doing some secretarial work for G.H.Q.) It was the most extraordinary tour de force. He lectured for 50 minutes by the clock on the ancient splendours of Baghdad, in classical Arabic and without a note. All the learned were present - they say they never heard more faultless Arabic, it's the talk of the town. He is the greatest dear, Prof. M., and I think him the best piece of propaganda we've issued. It's generally admitted that he knows more of Arabic language and history than any Arab here and they all love him. So do I; he has got a most delicious edge, besides all his learning. I've been riding today with Col. Willcox, kindest and best of doctors. He is going home in a fortnight, summoned back for some work of medical reconstruction by the W.O. I owe him immense debts of gratitude; he has been such an angel of goodness to me. It was the most delightful afternoon, a bright hot sun and the barley all green under the palm trees. Nothing can beat our winter climate. The election news fills me with satisfaction. A very large coalition majority is just what I hoped for - but I didn't dare to hope it would be so large. What will Charles do? I'm afraid I can't write condolences to Moll they would be so very insincere. But I'm very sorry for her personally, poor darling. And will Asquith retire from public life? I hear he is worn out and that Mrs. A. is scarcely sane - is that so? Frank Balfour is now Governor of Baghdad; it's a great joy having him for a colleague. We spend many afternoons together and I come back to the office at tea time and get 2 clear hours' work without visitors. Ever your very affec. daughter Gertrude

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