The Letters of Gertrude Bell. selected Gertrude Bell, edited, Lady Florence Bell.
The Letters of Gertrude Bell
The Letters of Gertrude Bell
The Letters of Gertrude Bell
The Letters of Gertrude Bell

The Letters of Gertrude Bell

London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1927. First edition. Leather_bound. This is a finely bound two-volume first edition, first printing of The Letters of Gertrude Bell. The binding features half dark green calf with raised spine bands and twin black calf spine labels over green cloth boards with generous calf corners and double blind rules at all transitions. The contents are bound with head and foot bands and fine stock endpapers. Condition of the bindings is fine, with no wear or flaws to report. The contents remain bright and complete and, although spotted intermittently throughout and on the page edges, show no previous ownership marks. The original Volume I dust jacket front face, partial spine, and flap blurb is tipped-in at the end of Volume I. The letters in these two volumes span 1874 to a few days prior to her death in July 1926. The volumes are generously illustrated. The letters were “selected and edited” with Prefatory Note by Gertrude Bell’s stepmother, Lady Florence Bell (1851-1930). As testimony to Gertrude Bell’s influence, the Volume II Conclusion includes a message from King George V to Lady Florence: “The Queen and I are grieved to hear of the death of your distinguished and gifted daughter… The nation will with us mourn the loss of one who by her intellectual powers, force of character, and personal courage rendered important and what I trust will prove lasting benefit to the country and to those regions where she worked with such devotion and self-sacrifice.” Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (1868-1926) was the intriguing and influential adventurer, scholar, writer, and diplomat who, like her contemporary T. E. “Lawrence of Arabia” did much to frame and shape the Middle East during and after the First World War. Raised amid industrialist family wealth, Bell lost her mother at age three, increasing a “sense of independence and self-reliance” perhaps already inherent to the “physically restless and intellectually gifted” child. By her mid-twenties the unmarried Bell discovered intellectual and emotional fascination with the Middle East. “Outstanding literary and linguistic skills” coupled with “determination, bravery, physical strength, and endurance” invigorated contributions to travel literature, translation, archaeology, and architecture, eventually evolving into engagement in the region’s socio-political currents. By the First World War, Bell became “a voluntary agent of Britain’s interests in the Middle East” and assumed her defining role – as “a woman trying to break one of the most challenging barriers of her time: the physical conquest of the desert and the decoding of the moral and ethical code of its inhabitants.” (ODNB) Bell’s linguistic and tribal knowledge made her indispensable to the Arab Bureau - the Cairo intelligence office of the British government during the First World War, contributing articles to the Arabian Report and the famous Arab Bulletin. After the First World War, Bell remained an influential figure, helping persuade Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill to maintain a British presence in Iraq, helping secure the throne for the King of Iraq, and facilitating the Anglo-Iraqi treaty. One of her last accomplishments was to gather funds for a national museum in Baghdad, which was inaugurated in 1923 and installed in a permanent building in 1926, the year she died. Like the contemporary figure to whom she is often compared, Lawrence of Arabia, Bell was disappointed in some of her hopes for the region and died comparatively young. Bell was played by actress Nicole Kidman in the 2015 film Queen of the Desert. From the original dust jacket blurb: “Gertrude Bell will live in the public memory most largely as the uncrowned Queen of Arabia… The letters published in this book, from her girlhood until the end of her life, show an amazing range of many-sided ability… Her genius found its best expression in the intimate study, comprehension and mastery of Arab life and politics… showing herself time and again the indispensable intermediary between East and West.”. Item #005817

Price: $600.00