We wanted to share with you our latest update on Letters from Baghdad.
Follow Gertrude Bell on the 100th Anniversary of Her Landmark 1914 Journey through Central Arabia
“I must begin a chronicle, though Heaven knows where it will be sent off. We left ‘Amman on the 15th, I having given the authorities an assurance that the Ottoman Govt. was not responsible for me. This amounted to little, for wherever I went without gendarmes the Govt. had the right to wash its hands of me. And I could not take gendarmes into the desert….It is a fine country this open desert, and I am enjoying myself mightily.” January 19, 1914
100 years ago, just before the outbreak of WWI, Gertrude Bell set out from Damascus via camel caravan on her landmark, unsanctioned journey into the heart of Central Arabia. She sought to reach the city of Hayil, home of tribal leader Ibn Rashid, chief rival to the Saud tribe, soon to become the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. Covering over 1500 miles, she reached Hayil where she was held captive for eight days, then upon her release, she continued on to Baghdad before returning on a northerly route back to Damascus.
According to Sir David Hogarth, archaeologist and a senior British intelligence officer in the Middle East during WWI: “The jaded traveller [Miss Bell] writing her diary and letters at Baghdad in April 1914, had no suspicion that, in little more than half a year, the knowledge and experience acquired during the past four months… would become of national value”.
Please Follow @Lettfrombaghdad on Twitter and Facebook as we follow Gertrude Bell through Central Arabia tweeting from her vividly revealing diary written during this fascinating journey.
About the film…
Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, Letters from Baghdad tells the story of Gertrude Bell who left the confines of Edwardian England to seek freedom and independence in the Arabian desert and became the most powerful woman of her day in the British Empire. In the aftermath of WWI, Bell drew the borders of modern Iraq, installed its first king and founded the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities. The film, the first feature-length documentary on Gertrude Bell, explores the choices that trail blazing women almost always have to make, and how her actions and the decisions she made in the formation of modern Iraq continue to influence current events in the Middle East and the world today.
We hope you share our passion for shining a light on Gertrude Bell’s place in history. Although we received the development grant from the NEH, we still need your support! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation for the production of Letters from Baghdad. Contributions will entitle you to invitations to special events and premieres and, at certain levels, to receive on-screen credit.
Images: Top – Tor al Tubaiq, Saudi Arabia by Gertrude Bell – Source: Gertrude Bell Archives Newcastle University; Middle – GBell Hayil Journey – Source: Royal Geographic Society Archives.