Gertrude Bell

‘I glimpse her ahead of me’ – a solo female traveller follows her hero across Turkey

Green-eyed Gertrude Bell belongs in Charles Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta, that slab of velvety antique that enthralled the English (they were not yet British) in the love-affair phase of their relationship with the Arabs. County Durham-born to a wealthy industrialist father, Bell (1868-1926) was a key player when the Powers tried ineptly to mould the Middle East, as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. She is well covered in the literature and appears in a large hat alongside Churchill in conference photographs. But as Pat Yale announces in this new book: ‘Her time in Turkey has been largely overlooked.’ Bell travelled extensively in that country before the first world war (starting