What’s inside her suitcase?

She packed couture evening dresses, lawn blouses and linen riding skirts, cotton shirts and fur coats, sweaters and scarves, canvas and leather boots. Beneath layers of lacy petticoats she hid guns, cameras, and film, and wrapped up many pairs of binoculars and pistols as gifts for the more important sheikhs. She carried hats, veils, parasols, lavender soap, Egyptian cigarettes in a silver case, insect powder, maps, books, a Wedgwood dinner service, silver candlesticks and hairbrushes, crystal glasses, linen and blankets, folding tables, and a comfortable chair—as well as her travelling canvas bed and bath. She took two tents, one for Fattuh to put up the moment they pitched camp, so that she had a table to write on, the other with her bath, to be filled with hot water once there was a fire, and her bed, to be made up with the muslin sleeping bag laid out under the blankets.

– on Gertrude Bell’s 1909 journey to the Middle East, from Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations by Georgina Howell.


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