Request a high resolution copy

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

There is currently no summary available for this item.
Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Balfour, Frank
Naqib, Talib al-
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Feb 29 Dearest Mother. It's too exciting to think that Father is already on his way here. It's also the first spring day, after bitter cold and drenching rain, and being Sunday I'm not going to the office. I've installed myself in the verandah of my garden, having brought all my work here for a good morning, which I shall begin by writing to you. I took the whole Goschen family to Babylon this week. It was icy cold going there in the railway trolley but most delcious when we got there. Also they are charming people to take sightseeing because they are so much interested. She is a particularly nice woman; when she comes back to England I wish you would go and see her. I'll tell her to write to you. They lost their only son at Sh. Sa'ad [Shaykh Sa'd], poor people. She came to tea with me yesterday and we had a long talk. It's so refreshing to meet someone of one's own sort. I'm taking her to the bazaar this afternoon. He is very pleasant and agreeable; I should say not a first rate intelligence but a good average and besides that full of appreciation and enthusiasm. He has got right ideas as to this country, from our point of view - non-exploitation, to put it into a word. He came yesterday to my office and we talked with maps. When he gets home I feel pretty sure all he will say to the High and Mighty will be of profit to us - if they'll listen. I'm dining with Frank tonight to meet him again. As to my own occupations, I'm very busy trying to get a private hospital for women of the better classes - they have already organized an excellent ward in the Civil Hospital for poor women. It was when we showed them this that the well born women asked if they couldn't have something of the same kind and I replied yes if they would collect the money to pay for the building. It will cost, tout compris, Rs 45000 and they must pay for it if they want it - an 8 bed hospital, of 4 rooms with a bath room and nurse's room, 6 rooms in all. We had an immense tea party at Amelia Tod's whose house is more convenient than mine being in the middle of the town. She did it beautifully for us. I explained the matter to the ladies and they were all very enthusiastic. I am now sending a personal letter to 10 of the richest men in the town asking them each to give Rs 3000. The rest I think we should have no difficulty in collecting in small subscriptions. I told you about Saiyid Talib didn't I - the last night he was here we had an immense dinner party in his honour in the house of Fakhri Jamil. The Jamil are the most distinguished family here, by birth - you remember it was my poor friend Abdul Rahman Jamil who died just before I arrived. Since his death I have become honorary head of the family. All the leading notables were there, Frank and I, Sir Edgar and two other British heads of departments. I had a very strong impression that the really salient feature of the evening was not the presence of S. Talib but the remarkable terms of cordial intimacy between the Arabs and us British officers. S. Talib is as sharp as a needle, nothing escapes him, and if he came to Baghdad to see how the land lay, why he has seen. Since his return to Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] I've had a telegram thanking me for all my kindness to him. I shall take Father to lunch with him at his beautiful house on the river. I should like Father to see our leading rogue amongst other Schenswurdigkeiten. He talks a little English. Now I must go to my work so goodbye. Oh, first, would you please send me by post my crop with its lash. When I ride with my greyhounds the pi dogs fight them and I want a lash to help my dogs to beat them off. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

IIIF Manifest