"O’Brien includes both diaries and enlivens them with truly outstanding examples of some of the 6000 photographs Bell tookduring her life in the East."—Hudson Review
"Bell’s admirers will be grateful to O'Brien for this account, the hazardous journey that earned Bell the Royal Geographical medal."—International History Review
"No European had ventured in Arabia’s sands for 20 years, and her notes give the reader a unique sense of the nomadic Bedouin who inhabited them and the sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrifying terrain they traveled across."—Middle East Journal
"This is a handsome book, a pleasing read, and has many entrancing photographs from Gertrude Bell’s collection."—Middle Eastern Studies
The Englishwoman Gertrude Bell lived an extraordinary life. Her adventures are the stuff of novels: she rode with bandits; braved desert shamals; was captured by Bedouins; and sojourned in a harem. Called the most powerful woman in the British Empire, she counseled kings and prime ministers. Bell’s colleagues included Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who in 1921 invited Bell—the only woman whose advice was sought—to the Cairo Conference to “determine the future of Mesopotamia.” Bell numbered among her closest friends T.E. Lawrence, St. John Philby, and Arabian sheiks.
In this volume of three of her notebooks, Rosemary O’Brien preserves Bell’s elegant, vibrant prose, and presents Bell as a brilliant tactician fearlessly confronting her own vulnerability. The fundamental themes of her life—reckless behavior; a divided self which combined brilliance of intellect with a passionate nature; a sense of history; and the fatal gift of falling in love with a married man—are all here in remarkable detail. Her journey to northern Arabia in 1914 earned Bell professional recognition from the Royal Geographical Society, and solidified her reputation as a canny political analyst of Middle Eastern affairs.
In addition to Bell’s own photographs, O’Brien has provided us an unprecedented first access to excerpts of the Bell/Richard Doughty-Wyllie love letters, the married British army officer with whom she was in love and for whom her diaries were written.
About the Author
Rosemary O’Brien is a journalist and editor. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
7 x 9, 274 pages, 34 black and white illustrations