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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

Letter in which Bell provides an overview of her recent social engagements, including a tea party held for 'Arab ladies' by Lady Esme Dobbs. Bell notes that several Ministers' wives were in attendance, and comments on rumours regarding the relationship between Maryam Safwat and King Feisal.
Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Naji, Haji
Dobbs, Esme
Dobbs, Henry
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Askari, Ja'far al-
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Dec 22 Darling Father. I've a mystic feeling that I shan't write next week from Babylon, so I'm leaving this letter for next mail in order that I may not wholely [sic] miss a post. I shall not get your Christmas letters till I come back as I don't think they will be delivered today and we leave at 6.30 a.m. tomorrow. It's glorious weather, clear and coldish - the temp was down to 35° last night.
The events to be recorded are that Lady Dobbs gave a tea to Arab ladies at my instance, on Thursday. I asked all Ministers' wives available Mmes Nuri, Ja'far, 'Ali Jaudat (she's a charming woman and very intelligent) Muhsin Beg (ex-P.M.) 'Abdul Rahman Haidari (he's a leading notable) and Mme Safwat, generally reputed to be the King's mistress! She brought a daughter grown perfectly charming, speaking excellent French and playing the piano remarkably well, while she sang queer little Turkish tunes. I really don't see why H.M. should not marry the daughter. It's not their custom to have two wives at once, but 'Abdullah has, and after all you can't say that Faisal has any wife at all, since King Husain won't let her leave Mecca [Makkah]. It would be much better for him to have a wife and family here.

It was a very successful party; they played and sang, such of them as could and had an excellent tea. Marie can to help, looking very distinguished. When they had gone Lady Dobbs thanked me for asking them, said she wished always to be guided by me (sic) and added that Sir Henry was always observing that he did not know what he would do without me, I was so clever. There now! that's more than you and I knew. I was quite genuinely surprised; though I get on with him very well, I had no idea he entertained such sentiments as the above.

Yesterday afternoon I rode down to see Haji Naji whom I found in his garden, dear old thing. And I dined with Col. Vincent to meet Col. Anderson, O.C. one of the Indian regiments - a nice man and an agreeable dinner.

Now I must finish up work for the mail, go to a polo match and see to my packing. Lionel Smith comes to a tête à tête dinner. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

This ought to reach you on or about Jan 1 and it will wish you all a very happy New Year.

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