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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

Letter in which Bell discusses developments in relation to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, noting that she has secured the building of her choice and that it will also hold the Library of the American School. She adds that she has ordered drawers to hold pottery fragments, and that she looks forward to transferring her own collection from her house to the museum's holdings.
Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cornwallis, Ken
Amery, L.S.
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad March 3. Darlingest Mother. Thank you for your Belloved letter of Feb 18. I don't know you manage to take an interest in all my trivial life and times but I do love you for doing it.
I didn't telegraph because when I got your telegram it was already a week old, I having been away. I felt as if I could not say enough in a telegram and so I waited until next day when I could write. And even then I couldn't write very much. These things silence one.

This is a nice letter from Mr Amery, isn't it. He is a kind little man. I had forgotten that he knew Hugo. He has left a wonderfully scented memory, hasn't he.

I feel sure you will be glad to hear that I have got the building I wanted of all others for my museum. After addressing the Prime Minister in exalted terms, His Excellency came hurrying into my office, replete with promises. He advised me to get hold of Ken, whose Ministry disposes of Govt buildings. What could be easier! I hauled Ken off to the place and found him the more easy to convince because it was he who first gave me a secret hint that it might be obtainable and he is now full of satisfaction that his idea turned out so well. So we settled it all in half an hour and today its former occupants have almost all turned out and I have been settling about repairs etc. Ken observes with complacency that the Ministry of Interior, when it once gets going, sticks at nothing and indeed I am amazed at the promptness with which it has been done. Govt offices don't usually move fast. I am going to lodge the Library of the American School, which will be a great advantage to us, besides being very gratifying to them, and have heaps and heaps of room to show off all our things. At present you must tumble over one in order to have a glimpse of another. Oh dear, how much I should like you to see it! It will be a real Museum, rather like the British Museum only a little smaller. I am ordering long shallow drawers in chests to hold the pottery fragments, so that you will pull out a drawer and look at Sumerian bits, and then another and look at Parthian glazes, and another for early incised, then Arab incised (which I can pick up in quantities a quarter of an hour from my door) and Arab glaze and all. Won't it be nice. It is also nice to think that I shall clear the cupboards of my house of a mass of biscuit tins full of dusty fragments.

Darling, you know I'm always thinking of you even when I write of other things as you do. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

Isn't Hugh like Hugo? He sounds as if he were and in his photographs he looks like him.

IIIF Manifest