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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
Naqib, Talib al-
Bowman, Humphrey
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Feb. 23 Dearest Mother. Your letter of Jan. 21 - the only thing I should like sent me is the Geographical Journal please. Don't let anything be sent simply in an envelope. The envelope with the ties arrived all torn open and only 2 ties inside. Only a strong parcel survives the post. I haven't by the way, ever got your article - did you send it? It's towels we're most in need of; ours are in holes. Of course it's better for me to buy in England; owing to the exchange the sovereign here is worth under 10/ which means I pay double the already exhorbitant price. I've had a dull busy week enlivened by a dinner party at the Leslies (acting C in C) to meet Sir Hugh and Lady Tothill - he's admiral of the Indian station. Both pleasant. Also a lunch with Frank to meet the Goschens, Lord and Lady and 2 daughters who are here on a visit. She's a dear and he is very nice - the daughters are too much painted for my taste. I took them to see old buildings afterwards and pleasanter sightseers I never dealt with. They were interested in everything and so intelligent about it. I'm taking them to Babylon tomorrow. We've had a visit from Saiyid Talib, a notable of Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)], the cleverest and perhaps the greatest rogue unhung. He has been interned in India and living in retirement in Egypt since Nov. 1914 and is now just back on his native heath. He is probably the best known man in Mesopotamia - a succes de crime - and it has been extremely instructive and interesting to see the reception he has been given. Very polite and respectful but under our regime they are no longer afraid of him - he's a back number and I expect he'll find that out pretty soon. I gave a dinner party for him - Sir Edgar, the Director of Education, the Mayor of Baghdad and Saiyid Muhi ud Din, a son of the Naqib. I think I've seldom spent a more interesting evening. I've just come from an enormous farewell dinner - he's going to Basrah tonight - in the house of Fakhri Jamil. You know about the Jamil, they are the family in which a posthumous son was born recently. They're the biggest swells here. All the notables were present, Frank and I, Sir Edgar and Major Bowman (Director of Education). It was very amusing; Saiyid Talib told some excellent stories, but as I say, he was no longer the man before whom everyone trembled. It's extremely satisfactory and proves what a stronghold we're getting and how under our régime people are beginning to sit up and take notice. They don't intend to be bullied by anyone. It's wonderful how well we all get on on these social occasions. Frank is very popular and justly so. I was of course the only woman. The talk really was good. Well now I must go to bed. Bless you dearest Mother Gertrude

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