Request a high resolution copy

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

Letter in which Bell discusses her trip to Ukhaydir, providing an overview of her journey and activities, as well as the commenting on the departure of visiting Secretaries of State from Baghdad. Also includes mention of R.V. Amery, specifically relating to a trip to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad with Bell, and to a speech he gave in Arabic in Mosul.
Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Cooke, R.S.
Smith, Arthur Lionel Forster
Sa'id, Nuri al-
Amery, L.S.
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Ap. 16. Dearest Mother. Here's the morning of the mail and my letter to you not written. I don't know why I have got so tied up, for I haven't really been specially busy. I had just finished my letter to Father yesterday when a tiresomely talkative French woman (tourist) Madame la Caze came in, and when she left I had to dress for dinner. It was a nice dinner party, for Evelyn Baring. I had Nuri Pasha to meet him, and Ken and the cheerful Sabih Beg and we played a silly card game afterwards and were quite merry. He is such a charming creature, Evelyn - I don't wonder that Katie adores him. He left this morning. Well, we brought off our Easter jaunt, Ken, Lionel and I and Mr Cooke, and we went to Ukhaidhir [Ukhaydir]. I felt rather sad at being there again with such long years and such sad years between the last visit, and very glad that I wasn't alone but in good company. We slept the first night in the Govt offices at Musaiyib [Musayyib, Al], a little town on the Euphrates about 2 hours away - we started after lunch on Thursday. It was a very delicious place on the banks of the river and after eating the dinner I had brought and that provided by the Qaimmaqam we played cross puzzles till we went to bed. Your books have come in most handy, you see! Next day we motored straight to Ukhaidhir via Karbala, lunched there and had about 4 hours to explore the castle (it has fallen down a little more since 1911 but nothing to matter) after which we motored to the Shithathah oasis and slept at the police station. We had our own camp beds and baths and chairs, our own dinner and that sent by the Mayor as well, so we were very luxurious. On Saturday we motored back to Baghdad, lunching by the Euphrates on the way, and were very sorry that our tiny holiday was over. The Secs of State left on Tuesday. I went with Mr Amery to the Museum on Monday morning and on the way back he said very satisfactory things. He said he had been much struck by the admirable relations between the British officials and the Arabs and he thought the former had done wonderful work and that the whole administration was much better than he expected. I was very glad because I felt that he was giving praise where it was due. I really am surprised that the Verge was a success on the stage - I should have thought it would have been too bewildering. No - I haven't finished about the Secs of State. Their visit has done a great deal of good, not least to them. Sir Sam Hoare I don't think has profited much - he is a narrow rigid man - but Mr Amery and Sir John have gone away full of sympathy and have left a very pleasant impression behind them. Did I tell you that Mr Amery distinguished himself by conversing in Turkish which he hadn't spoken since 1898. And at Mosul [Mawsil, Al] he got an Arabic speech by heart and delivered it to a pleased if dazed audience. They felt it was a pretty attention on his part though they did not understand a syllable. I think you are so wise to have stayed quietly in London for Easter with your baby. Ever, dearest, your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

IIIF Manifest