Daughter of the Desert

Georgina Howell

3.93 based on 29 ratings & 3 reviews on Goodreads.com

2007 Nominee

BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize

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13 December 2012
9780330476034
0 pages
Synopsis

Archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author, poet, photographer, mountaineer and nation builder, Gertrude Bell was born in 1868 into a world of privilege and plenty, but she turned her back on all that for her passion for the Arab peoples, becoming the architect of the independent kingdom of Iraq and seeing its first king Faisal safely onto the throne in 1921. Daughter of the Desert is her story, vividly told and impeccably researched, drawing on Gertrude’s own writings, both published and unpublished. It is a compelling portrait of a woman who transcended the restrictions of her class and age and in so doing created a remarkable and enduring legacy.

‘What a great Oscar-laden biopic this will make …the combination of epic scenes and personal drama makes Georgina Howell’s saga a winner’ Daily Express

'Howell sketches in the gradations of colour and emotion that have been lacking in hitherto monochrome accounts of Bell's life ... Exemplary' Sunday Times

‘Riveting … few women have had a life more worth reading about.’ Diana Athill, Literary Review

‘What a great Oscar-laden biopic this will make …the combination of epic scenes and personal drama makes Georgina Howell’s saga a winner’ Roger Lewis, Daily Express

'Howell sketches in the gradations of colour and emotion that have been lacking in hitherto monochrome accounts of Bell's life ... Exemplary' Sunday Times

'You don't have to share Gertrude Bell's passions in order to be her biographer, but it helps' Daniel Johnson Sunday Telegraph Seven

'One reads this richly rewarding book wishing that Britain had a shred of the esteem it had in the Arab world in the days of Gertrude Bell.' Peter Lewis Daily Mail

'Journalist Georgina Howell readily admits to being a fan of the intrepid Victorian Gertrude Bell even before starting her biography... Drawing extensively on Bell's writings and personal letters, Howell draws up a detailed picture ob Bell's life and loves...In the current climate Bell's part in creating modern-day Iraq is particularly resonant.' Siobhan Murphy Metro London

‘Riveting. Howell’s mastery of an extremely complex network of events in the Middle East appears to be effortless; her portraits of the personalities involved, both British and Arab, are excellent … few women have had a life more worth reading about.’ Diana Athill, Literary Review

‘Her story is well known in the context of Middle-Eastern politics, but Georgina Howell humanizes the political woman by giving a full, engagingly written account of her privileged upbringing and frustrated love, while a young woman, for two men.’ The Times

‘[Daughter of the Desert] not only documents the life of one of the greatest female explorers of her time, but brings to life her indomitable character, with some well-chosen anecdotes and meticulous research. Here is a lesson in biography and travel writing …For anyone serious about becoming a travel writer this enchanting biography is a delight. It covers not only travel, but also how to take an adventure and turn it into a story.’ Writer’s Forum

‘This excellent biography of Gertrude Bell, the woman behind the

creation of modern Iraq, goes far towards making her a true heroine, a Gertrude of Arabia to match her friend, T.E. Lawrence … With a skill and clarity worthy of her heroine, Ms Howell evokes the diversity of religions, interests and traditions that Gertrude Bell understood so thoroughly. What emerges is a woman who, though officially part of the male world, never conformed to it.’ Economist