Exhibition will celebrate life of ‘the extraordinary Gertrude Bell’

The life of the remarkable Wearside woman who helped to shape the modern world will be celebrated in a new museum exhibition this month. 

Gertrude Bell, who was born in Washington’s Dame Margaret Hall, became the first woman to achieve a first class degree in Modern History from Oxford University. 

She developed a passion for Arabic cultures and became so familiar with the Middle East that ended up working at a high level with British military intelligence in Mesopotamia, during the First World War. 

She was the only woman present at Winston Churchill’s post-war conference to discuss the future of the region and by the time of her death in Baghdad in 1926 had helped oversee the creation of modern Iraq. 

The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell’ will open at Newcastle’s Great North Museum on January 30 and run until May. 

The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the museum and Newcastle University, where the extensive Gertrude Bell Archive is held. 

Co-curator Andrew Parkin said: “Gertrude Bell was an extraordinary woman who made significant contributions in so many different areas, including archaeology, exploration and the politics of the Middle East. 

“She frequently found herself in a male-dominated environment but was nearly always able to hold her own, whether dealing with British Government officials and politicians or leaders of various Arab tribes. 

“We’re very pleased to be able to create this original exhibition.” 

by Kevin Clark

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