“Are we the same people I wonder when all our surroundings, associations, and acquaintances are changed? Here that which is me, which womanlike is an empty jar that the passer by fills at pleasure, is filled with such wine as in England I had never heard of, now the wine is more important than the jar when one is thirsty, therefore I conclude, cousin mine, that it is not the person who danced with you at Mansfield St. that writes to you to-day from Persia-Yet there are dregs, English sediments at the bottom of my sherbet, and perhaps they flavour it more than I think.”–Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) an English traveler, writer, archaeologist, and most surprisingly, considering the era in which she lived—a political officer and a spy! Once, when writing her cousin, she asked, “Are we the same people I wonder when all our surroundings, associations, and acquaintances are changed?” No doubt, like many travelers, she had come to understand how travel and interaction with other cultures leaves one changed—often for the better. Throughout her unconventional life, she traveled widely in Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria and Arabia (the Arabian Peninsula). In Arabia, working with T.E. Lawrence, she played a major role in setting up dynasties in Jordan and Iraq. Gertrude was also a mountain climber, wrote extensively about her travels, made her way across Arabia six times, and as an archaeologist was credited with discovering ancient ruins. Without a doubt, she is yet another inspiring woman globetrotter from history!
If you’d like to read more about Gertrude Bell, you can read her letters here!
Story by Alyce Howard