A beret is a soft,
round, flat-crowned hat, usually of woven, hand-knitted wool,
crocheted cotton, wool felt, or acrylic fibre.
began in 19th century France and Spain, countries with which it
remains associated. Berets are worn as part of the uniform of many
military and police units worldwide, as well as by other
Archaeology and art
history indicate that headgear similar to the modern beret has been
worn since the Bronze Age across Northern Europe and as far south as
ancient Crete and Italy, where it was worn by the Minoans, Etruscans
and Romans. Such headgear has been popular among the nobility and
artists across Europe throughout modern history.
The Basque style
beret was the traditional headgear of Aragonese and Navarrian
shepherds from the Ansó and Roncal valleys of the Pyrenees, a
mountain range that divides Southern France from northern Spain. The
commercial production of Basque-style berets began in the 17th
century in the Oloron-Sainte-Marie area of Southern France.
Originally a local craft, beret-making became industrialised in the
19th century. The first factory, Beatex-Laulhere, claims production
records dating back to 1810. By the 1920s, berets were associated
with the working classes in a part of France and Spain and by 1928
more than 20 French factories and some Spanish and Italian factories
produced millions of berets.
In Western fashion,
men and women have worn the beret since the 1920s as sportswear and
later as a fashion statement.
Military berets were
first adopted by the French Chasseurs Alpins in 1889. After seeing
these during the First World War, British General Hugh Elles proposed
the beret for use by the newly formed Royal Tank Regiment, which
needed headgear that would stay on while climbing in and out of the
small hatches of tanks. They were approved for use by King George V
in 1924. The black RTR beret was made famous by Field Marshal
Montgomery in the Second World War.
The beret fits
snugly around the head, and can be "shaped" in a variety of
ways – in the Americas it is commonly worn pushed to one side. In
Central and South America, local custom usually prescribes the manner
of wearing the beret; there is no universal rule and older gentlemen
usually wear it squared on the head, jutting forward. It can be worn
by both men and women.
berets feature a headband or sweatband attached to the wool, made
either from leather, silk or cotton ribbon, sometimes with a
drawstring allowing the wearer to tighten the hat. The drawstrings
are, according to custom, either tied and cut off or tucked in or
else left to dangle. The beret is often adorned with a cap badge,
either in cloth or metal. Some berets have a piece of buckram or
other stiffener in the position where the badge is intended to be
Berets are not
usually lined, but many are partially lined with silk or satin. In
military berets, the headband is worn on the outside; military berets
often have external sweatbands of leather, pleather or ribbon. The
traditional beret (also worn by selected military units, such as the
Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais or the French Chasseurs Alpins), usually
has the "sweatband" folded inwardly. In such a case, these
berets have only an additional inch or so of the same woollen
material designed to be folded inwardly.
Newer beret styles
made of Polar fleece are also popular.
Berets came to be
popularised across Europe and other parts of the world as typical
Basque headgear, as reflected in their name in several languages
(e.g. béret basque in French; Baskenmütze in German; Basco in
Italian; or baskeri in Finnish), while the Basques themselves use the
words txapela or boneta. They are very popular and common in the
Basque Country. The colours adopted for folk costumes varied by
region and purpose: black and blue are worn more frequently than red
and white, which are usually used at local festivities. The people of
Aragon adopted red berets while the black beret became the common
headgear of workers in France and Spain.
A big commemorative
black beret is the usual trophy in sport or bertso competitions,
including Basque rural sports, the Basque portions of the Tour de
France, and the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. It may bear sewn
ornamental references to the achievement or contest.
The black beret was
once considered the national cap of France in Anglo-Saxon countries
and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny. It is no
longer as widely worn as it once was, but it remains a strong sign of
local identity in the southwest of France. When French people want to
picture themselves as "the typical average Frenchman" in
France or in a foreign country, they often use this stereotype from
Anglo-Saxon countries. There are today, three manufacturers in
France. Laulhère (who acquired the formerly oldest manufacturer,
Blancq-Olibet, in February 2014 has been making bérets since 1840.
Boneteria Auloronesa is a small artisan French beret manufacturer in
the Béarnaise town of Oloron Sainte Marie, and Le Béret Français
is another artisan béret maker in the Béarnaise village of Laàs.
The beret still remains a strong symbol of the unique identity of
southwestern France and is worn while celebrating traditional events.
In Spain, depending
upon the region, the beret is usually known as the boina. They were
once common men's headwear across the cooler north of the country, in
regions of Aragon, Navarre, the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias
and Galicia and nearby areas.
There are several
Scottish variants of the beret, notably the Scottish bonnet or
Bluebonnet (originally bonaid in Gaelic), whose ribbon cockade and
feathers identify the wearer’s clan and rank. It's considered a
symbol of Scottish patriotism. Other Scottish types include the
tam-o'-shanter (named by Robert Burns after a character in one of his
poems) and the striped Kilmarnock cap, both of which feature a large
pompom in the centre.
practicality has long made it an item of military and other uniform
clothing. Among a few well known historic examples are the Scottish
soldiers, who wore the blue bonnet in the 17th and 18th centuries,
the Volontaires Cantabres, a French force raised in the Basque
country in the 1740s to the 1760s, who also wore a blue beret, and
the Carlist rebels, with their red berets, in 1830s Spain. In World
War Two, British officer Bernard Montgomery ("Monty") took
to wearing a black beret given to him by a corporal, and it became
his trademark. In the 1950s the U.S. Army's newly conceived Special
Forces units began to wear a green beret as headgear, following the
custom of the British Royal Marines, which was officially adopted in
1961 with such units becoming known as the "Green Berets",
and additional specialised forces in the Army, U.S. Air Force and
other services also adopted berets as distinctive headgear.
Paramilitary forces of some countries also wear the Beret as their
fashion and culture
The beret is part of
the long-standing stereotype of the intellectual, film director,
artist, "hipster", poet, bohemain and beatnik. The painter
Rembrandt and the composer Richard Wagner, among others, wore berets.
In the United States and Britain, the middle of the 20th century saw
an explosion of berets in women's fashion. In the latter part of the
20th century, the beret was adopted by the Chinese both as a fashion
statement and for its political undertones. Berets were also worn by
bebop and jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Wardell
Gray and Thelonious Monk.
a revolutionary symbol
In the 1960s several
activist groups adopted the black beret. These include the
Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the ETA guerrillas (who
wore black berets over hoods in public appearances), the Black
Panther Party of the United States, formed in 1966, and the "Black
Beret Cadre" (a similar Black Power organisation in Bermuda). In
addition, the Brown Berets were a Chicano organisation formed in
1967. The Young Lords Party, a Latino revolutionary organisation in
the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, also wore berets, as did
the Guardian Angels unarmed anti-crime citizen patrol units
originated by Curtis Sliwa in New York City in the 1970s to patrol
the streets and subways to discourage crime (red berets and matching
Britain's most inspirational Second World War pilot after helping the
Allies beat the Germans in the air despite losing both legs in a
Now, the MG sports
car once owned by RAF hero Sir Douglas Bader is to go on sale at
auction and is expected to fetch £80,000.
The fighter pilot,
who famously flew in the Battle of Britain, was the first owner of
the Midget TA Roadster.
He bought it in
1938, seven years after he lost his legs, registering the open-top
car to his address in upmarket Kensington, West London.
The MG T series is a
range of body-on-frame convertible sports cars that were produced by
MG from 1936 to 1955. The series included the MG TA, MG TB, MG TC, MG
TD, and MG TF Midget models. The last of these models, the TF, was
replaced by the MGA.
The TF name was
reinstated in 2002 on the mid-engined MG TF sports car.
The MG TA Midget
replaced the PB in 1936. It was an evolution of the previous car and
was 3 inches (76 mm) wider in its track at 45 inches (1,100 mm) and 7
inches (180 mm) longer in its wheelbase at 94 inches (2,400 mm).
advanced overhead-cam inline-four engine was now not in use by any
other production car so it was replaced by the MPJG OHV unit from the
Wolseley 10 but with twin SU carburettors, modified camshaft and
manifolding. The engine displaced just 1292 cc, with a stroke of 102
mm (4.0 in) and a bore of 63.5 mm (2.5 in) and power output was 50 hp
(40.3 kW) at 4,500 rpm. The four-speed manual gearbox now had
synchromesh on the two top ratios and was connected to the engine by
a cork-faced clutch running in oil. Unlike the PB, hydraulic brakes
were fitted with 9-inch (230 mm) drums.
Like the PB, most
were two-seat open cars with a steel body on an ash frame. A
bench-type seat was fitted with storage space behind. From 1938 the
car could also be had with a more luxurious Tickford drophead coupé
body by Salmons of Newport Pagnell and 252 were made. The soft top
could be used in three positions, fully open, closed or open just
over the seats. Wind-up windows were fitted to the higher topped
doors making the car more weathertight and individual bucket seats
used in the fully carpeted interior. Complete chassis were fitted
with a very basic body at the Abingdon factory and driven to Newport
Pagnell to have their coachwork fitted. A closed Airline coupé made
by Carbodies, as fitted to the P type, was also offered but only one
or two is thought to have been made.
The T-type was
capable of reaching almost 80 mph (130 km/h) in standard tune with a
0–60 mph time of 23.1 seconds.
3,003 were made and
in 1936 it cost £222 on the home market, the same as had been asked
for the PB.
introduced the model was known as the T Type and only after the
advent of the TB did the TA designation come into use.
Allan Tomlinson won
the 1939 Australian Grand Prix driving an MG TA
The TA was replaced
by the TB Midget in May 1939. It had a smaller but more modern XPAG
engine as fitted to the Morris Ten Series M, but in a more highly
tuned state and like the TA with twin SU carburettors. This 1250 cc
I4 unit featured a slightly less undersquare 66.6 mm (2.6 in) bore
and 90 mm (3.5 in) stroke and had a maximum power output of 54 hp (40
kW) at 5200 rpm. The oil-immersed clutch was also replaced by a
dry-plate type and gear ratios revised.
Available as an open
2-seater or more luxurious Tickford drophead coupé, this is the
rarest of the T-type cars; only 379 were made.
The TC Midget was
the first postwar MG, launched in 1945. It was quite similar to the
pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc (76 cu in) pushrod-OHV engine
with a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp
(40.6 kW) at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative
stages of tuning for "specific purposes".
It was exported to
the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive.
The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam
headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and
chrome-plated front and rear bumpers.
The body was
approximately 4 inches (100 mm) wider than the TB measured at the
rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width
remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread
strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly
in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side
of the dash in front of the passenger.
10,001 TCs were
produced, from September 1945 (chassis number TC0251) to Nov. 1949
(chassis number TC10251), more than any previous MG model. It cost
£527 on the home market in 1947.
Fuel consumption was
28 mpg-imp (10.1 L/100 km; 23.3 mpg-US). Its 0–60 mph time was
22.7 seconds, a respectable performance at the time.
Back in the 1880s,
the evening train from Middlesbrough would often stop right in front
of a stately house in Redcar called Red Barns. Out would step Hugh
Bell, the cultured and wealthy head of a sprawling iron, steel and
chemical empire. As often as not, waiting to greet him as he strode
up the garden path would be the daughter who would later find fame as
an explorer, archaeologist, writer and spy.
Once a book-lined
and pet-filled family home, Red Barns has fallen on hard times. But a
campaign has now been launched to buy it and convert it into a
memorial to Gertrude Bell, turning the spotlight back on to a woman
who was, in the early 20th century, as famous as Lawrence of Arabia.
Gertrude was one of
those rare individuals who have only to take up an activity to make a
success of it. Aged just 20, she was the first woman to achieve a
first in history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. By her early 30s, she
had mastered Farsi well enough to produce a translation of the Divan
of Hafiz that is still admired in present-day Iran. She then became
so successful a mountaineer that a peak in the Swiss Alps is named
after her. And she was one of the first archaeologists – and
certainly the first woman - to examine the Byzantine remains of
On the day her
grandfather's iron and steel works opened, he rode through Newcastle
in an aluminium top hat
Yet those are her
mere add-on accomplishments. For today, Gertrude is mainly remembered
as the woman who explored much of the Middle East, taking some of the
earliest photographs of the monuments now being destroyed by Isis.
The knowledge she acquired became invaluable to the British
government during the first world war. In later life, Gertrude
settled in Baghdad and took on the role of kingmaker to Faisal. Once
the new monarchy was established, she threw herself into the creation
of the National Museum of Iraq. She died in 1926, in Baghdad, almost
certainly at her own hand.
Gertrude – whose
story was told in Werner Herzog’s 2015 film Queen of the Desert,
starring Nicole Kidman – was not the only larger than life
character in her family. The wealth that facilitated her Middle
Eastern wanderings was originally created by her formidable
grandfather, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, who had set up an iron and
steel works in Newcastle and an aluminium plant in Middlesbrough. On
the day it opened, he rode through Newcastle wearing an aluminium top
hat. Despite their important role in the history of northeast
England, the Bells are oddly unremembered. A blue plaque on Red Barns
may commemorate Gertrude, but there is no statue of her let alone a
home, Red Barns, in Redcar, in the 1920s.
The blue plaque at
Red Barns Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
A rare opportunity
has presented itself to right this wrong. In 1868, Gertrude’s
father commissioned a new home for his young family in the heart of
Redcar. Largely the brainchild of William Morris, the Arts and Crafts
movement tends to be associated with southern England. But the Bells
were to become enthusiastic patrons of the style in the northeast. In
1868, it was to Philip Webb, a man synonymous with Arts and Crafts,
that Hugh turned.
Only Webb’s second
commission as an architect, Red Barns bears a striking resemblance to
the better-known Red House in Bexleyheath, London, which he had
co-designed with Morris in 1860. A two-storeyed mansion built from
hand-moulded bricks and featuring hipped roofs and soaring chimneys,
Red Barns is described as Georgian vernacular revival by Historic
England. Its interior was the work of Morris, who wallpapered it with
blackbirds singing against a bright blue sky.
Red Barns is infused
with Gertrude’s presence. It was here that she played games of
“housemaids” with her brothers and sisters, dashing silently from
the cellars to the attics while attempting to avoid being spotted by
the servants. It was in the extensive gardens that she cultivated her
lifelong love of flowers. Scrambling up the scaffolding as the house
was extended in 1882 may have given her the head for heights that
turned her into a mountaineer. Riding the ponies stabled at Red Barns
gave her the confidence to ride across virtually unmapped tracts of
the Middle East. And it was while living at Red Barns that she
developed another lifelong passion that has made her such a gift to
Nicole Kidman as
Gertrude Bell and Robert Pattinson as TE Lawrence in Queen of the
Much taken with
Webb’s work, Gertrude’s grandfather also commissioned him to
design Rounton Grange near Northallerton, entrusting the interior
decoration to Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. And his weekend retreat,
the medieval Mount Grace Priory near Osmotherley, was also treated to
an Arts and Crafts update. Given the family’s involvement with the
industrial development of the northeast, it’s ironic that they
should have chosen to associate themselves so strongly with an
architectural movement whose practitioners were proudly
After the first
world war, luck ran out for the Bell family. They lost much of their
fortune to death duties and increased competition in the iron and
steel industry. Mount Grace Priory is now owned by English Heritage,
which meticulously reproduced some of the original Morris wallpaper
in its restoration. Otherwise, time has not been especially kind to
their built legacy. Washington New Hall has been turned into
apartments. And once the family’s fortune was gone, nothing could
save magnificent Rounton Grange from the wrecker’s ball. In 1953,
it was completely demolished.
that stood in the garden has been stolen
“Red Barns is
Grade II* listed,” says Carol Pyrah of Historic England, “putting
it in the top 8% of buildings in England in terms of its special
architectural and historic interest.” Yet even so, it was converted
into a pub and hotel. Now the hotel has closed, leaving the house
vulnerable to vandalism. Stones have been thrown at the lovely
“porthole” stained-glass window and, according to Jan Long,
founder of the Gertrude Bell Society, the fountain that stood proudly
in the garden where Gertrude planted flowers has been stolen.
In 2015, the Great
North Museum in Newcastle hosted a successful exhibition entitled The
Extraordinary Gertrude Bell, which has now moved to Kirkleatham
Museum in Redcar. But members of the newly formed Friends of Red
Barns think the house would make a perfect permanent home for the
exhibition and have launched a campaign to save it from conversion
Redcar MP Anna
Turley is spearheading the campaign. “I was becoming increasingly
distressed at the visible decline of this historic building,” she
says, “and was contacted by many constituents with the same
concerns.” Now she is hopeful that a new museum could help
kickstart tourism in an area badly hit by recent steelwork closures.
has shown the importance of an understanding of past events and
issues that have ongoing significance in the Middle East in
particular,” says Dr Mark Jackson, manager of the Gertrude Bell
Photographic Archive at Newcastle University and co-curator of the
exhibition. “Red Barns promises to provide inspiration for a host
of initiatives that could sustain the building long term while making
a very positive contribution to future society.”
The trains may no
longer stop in front of Gertrude Bell’s childhood home. But the
chance now exists to turn Red Barns into a memorial to one of the
greatest women ever born in the UK.
Extraordinary Gertrude Bell is at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar, until 1
Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English
writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, spy and
archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to
British imperial policy-making due to her knowledge and contacts,
built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia,
Asia Minor, and Arabia. Along with T. E. Lawrence, Bell helped
support the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan as well as in
She played a major
role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq,
utilising her unique perspective from her travels and relations with
tribal leaders throughout the Middle East. During her lifetime she
was highly esteemed and trusted by British officials and given an
immense amount of power for a woman at the time. She has been
described as "one of the few representatives of His Majesty's
Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling
Bell was born on 14
July 1868 in Washington New Hall, County Durham, England – now
known as Dame Margaret Hall – to a family whose wealth enabled her
travels. She is described as having "reddish hair and piercing
blue-green eyes, with her mother's bow shaped lips and rounded chin,
her father’s oval face and pointed nose". Her personality was
characterised by energy, intellect, and a thirst for adventure which
shaped her path in life. Her grandfather was the ironmaster Sir Isaac
Lowthian Bell, an industrialist and a Liberal Member of Parliament,
in Benjamin Disraeli's second term. His role in British policy-making
exposed Gertrude at a young age to international matters and most
likely encouraged her curiosity for the world, and her later
involvement in international politics.
Bell's mother, Mary
Shield Bell, died in 1871 while giving birth to a son, Maurice (later
the 3rd Baronet). Gertrude Bell was just three at the time, and the
death led to a lifelong close relationship with her father, Sir Hugh
Bell, 2nd Baronet, who was three times mayor of Middlesbrough (1874,
1883 and 1911), High Sheriff of Durham (1895), Justice of the Peace,
Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham and Lord Lieutenant of the North
Riding of Yorkshire. Throughout her life she consulted with him on
political matters. Some biographies say the loss of her mother had
caused underlying childhood trauma, revealed through periods of
depression and risky behaviour.
At the age of seven
Bell acquired a stepmother, Florence Bell, and eventually, three
half-siblings. Florence Bell was a playwright and author of
children's stories, as well as the author of a study of Bell factory
workers. She instilled concepts of duty and decorum in Gertrude and
contributed to her intellectual development. Florence Bell's
activities with the wives of Bolckow Vaughan ironworkers in Eston,
near Middlesbrough, may have helped influence her step-daughter's
later stance promoting education of Iraqi women.
received her early education from Queen's College in London and then
later at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, at the age of 17.
History was one of the few subjects women were allowed to study, due
to the many restrictions imposed on them at the time. She specialised
in modern history, in which she received a first class honours degree
in two years.
Bell never married
or had children. She befriended British colonial administrator Sir
Frank Swettenham on a visit to Singapore with her brother Hugo in
1903 and maintained a correspondence with him until 1909. She had a
"brief but passionate affair" with Swettenham following his
retirement to England in 1904. She also had an unconsummated affair
with Maj. Charles Doughty-Wylie, a married man, with whom she
exchanged love letters from 1913 to 1915. After his death in 1915
during the Battle of Gallipoli, Bell launched herself into her work.
Bell's uncle, Sir
Frank Lascelles, was British minister (similar to ambassador) at
Tehran, Persia. In May 1892, after leaving Oxford, Bell travelled to
Persia to visit him. She described this journey in her book, Persian
Pictures, which was published in 1894. She spent much of the next
decade travelling around the world, mountaineering in Switzerland,
and developing a passion for archaeology and languages. She had
become fluent in Arabic, Persian, French and German as well as also
speaking Italian and Turkish. In 1899, Bell again went to the Middle
East. She visited Palestine and Syria that year and in 1900, on a
trip from Jerusalem to Damascus, she became acquainted with the Druze
living in Jabal al-Druze.She travelled across Arabia six times over
the next 12 years.
Between 1899 and
1904, she conquered a number of mountains including the La Meije and
Mont Blanc as she recorded 10 new paths or first ascents in the
Bernese Alps. One Alpine peak in the Bernese Oberland, the 2,632 m
(8,635 ft) Gertrudspitze, was named after her after it was first
traversed by her and her guides Ulrich and Heinrich Fuhrer in 1901.
However, she did fail in an attempt of the Finsteraarhorn in August
1902 when inclement weather including snow, hail and lightning forced
her to spend "forty eight hours on the rope" with her
guides, clinging to the rock face in terrifying conditions which
nearly cost her her life.
Bell's workers at
the Binbirkilise excavations in 1907
She published her
observations in the book Syria: The Desert and the Sown published in
1907 (William Heinemann Ltd, London). In this book she described,
photographed and detailed her trip to Greater Syria's towns and
cities like Damascus, Jerusalem, Beirut, Antioch and Alexandretta.
Bell's vivid descriptions opened up the Arabian deserts to the
western world. In March 1907, Bell journeyed to the Ottoman Empire
and began to work with the archaeologist and New Testament scholar
Sir William M. Ramsey. Their excavations in Binbirkilise were
chronicled in A Thousand and One Churches. In 1907, they discovered a
field of ruins in northern Syria on the east bank of the upper course
of the Euphrates to the steep slope of the former river valley. From
the ruins, they created a plan and described the ramparts: "Munbayah,
where my tents were pitched – the Arabic name means only a
high-altitude course – was probably the Bersiba in Ptolemy's list
of city names. It consists of a double rampart, situated on the river
In January 1909, she
left for Mesopotamia. She visited the Hittite city of Carchemish,
mapped and described the ruin of Ukhaidir and finally went to Babylon
and Najaf. Back in Carchemish, she consulted with the two
archaeologists on site. One of them was T. E. Lawrence. Her 1913
Arabian journey was generally difficult. She was the second foreign
woman after Lady Anne Blunt to visit Ha'il.
In 1927, a year
after her death, her stepmother Dame Florence Bell published two
volumes of Bell's collected correspondence written during the 20
years preceding World War I.
At the outbreak of
World War I, Bell's request for a Middle East posting was initially
denied. She instead volunteered with the Red Cross in France.
Later, she was asked
by British Intelligence to get soldiers through the deserts, and from
the World War I period until her death she was the only woman holding
political power and influence in shaping British imperial policy in
the Middle East. She often acquired a team of locals which she
directed and led on her expeditions. Throughout her travels Bell
established close relations with tribe members across the Middle
East. Additionally, being a woman gave her exclusive access to the
chambers of wives of tribe leaders, giving her access to other
perspectives and functions.
In November 1915,
however she was summoned to Cairo to the nascent Arab Bureau, headed
by General Gilbert Clayton. She also again met T. E. Lawrence.
Like Lawrence, Bell
had attended Oxford and earned First Class Honours in Modern History.
Bell spoke Arabic, Persian, French and German. She was an
archaeologist, traveller and photographer in the Middle East before
World War I. Upon the recommendation of renowned archaeologist and
historian Lt. Cmdr. David Hogarth, first Lawrence, then Bell, were
assigned to Army Intelligence Headquarters in Cairo in 1915 for war
service. Because both Bell and Lawrence had travelled the desert and
established ties with the local tribes and gained unique perspectives
of the people and the land before World War I, Hogarth realised the
value of Lawrence and Bell's expertise. Both Bell and Lawrence stood
hardly 5'5", yet both could ride with great determination and
endurance through the desert for hours on end.
Arriving in February
1916, she did not, at first, receive an official position, but
instead helped Hogarth set about organising and processing her own,
Lawrence's and Capt. W. H. I. Shakespear's data about the location
and disposition of Arab tribes that could be encouraged to join the
British against the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence and the British used the
information in forming alliances with the Arabs.
On 3 March 1916,
Gen. Clayton abruptly sent Bell to Basra, which British forces had
captured in November 1914, to advise Chief Political Officer Percy
Cox regarding an area she knew better than any other Westerner. Cox
found her an office in his headquarters, where she was employed for
the two days per week she was not at Military GHQ Basra. She drew
maps to help the British army reach Baghdad safely. She became the
only female political officer in the British forces and received the
title of "Liaison Officer, Correspondent to Cairo" (i.e. to
the Arab Bureau where she had been assigned). She was St. John
Philby's field controller, and taught him the finer arts of
behind-the-scenes political manoeuvering.
I went out last week
along the light railway 25 miles into the desert it's the Nasariyeh
Railway - ...it was so curious to travel 50 minutes by rail and
find...General Maude, our new army commander, has just arrived. I've
made his acquaintance…
While in the Middle
East, Gertrude Bell became a witness to the Armenian Genocide. She
remarked that in comparison to previous massacres, the massacres of
preceding years "were not comparable to the massacres carried
out in 1915 and the succeeding years." Bell also reported that
in Damascus, "Turks sold Armenian women openly in the public
market." In an intelligence report, Gertrude Bell wrote:
The battalion left
Aleppo on 3 February and reached Ras al-Ain in twelve hours....some
12,000 Armenians were concentrated under the guardianship of some
hundred Kurds...These Kurds were called gendarmes, but in reality
mere butchers; bands of them were publicly ordered to take parties of
Armenians, of both sexes, to various destinations, but had secret
instructions to destroy the males, children and old women...One of
these gendarmes confessed to killing 100 Armenian men himself...the
empty desert cisterns and caves were also filled with corpses...No
man can ever think of a woman's body except as a matter of horror,
instead of attraction, after Ras al-Ain."
After British troops
took Baghdad on 10 March 1917, Bell was summoned by Cox to Baghdad
and given the title of "Oriental Secretary." She, Cox and
Lawrence were among a select group of "Orientalists"
convened by Winston Churchill to attend a 1921 Conference in Cairo to
determine the boundaries of the British mandate (e.g., "the
British Partitions") and nascent states such as Iraq. Gertrude
is supposed to have described Lawrence as being able "to ignite
fires in cold rooms".
conference, she, Cox and Lawrence worked tirelessly to promote the
establishment of the countries of Transjordan and Iraq to be presided
over by the Kings Abdullah and Faisal, sons of the instigator of the
Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire (ca. 1915–1916), Hussein bin
Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca. Until her death in Baghdad, she served
in the Iraq British High Commission advisory group there.
Another target of
her efforts was thwarting the ambitions of Zionist movement. Gertrude
Bell's hostility towards Zionism was as passionate as her advocacy of
the Arab cause - she thought the Jews had no place in Palestine.
Referred to by
Persians as "al-Khatun" (a Lady of the Court who keeps an
open eye and ear for the benefit of the State), she was a confidante
of King Faisal of Iraq and helped ease his passage into the role,
amongst Iraq's other tribal leaders at the start of his reign. He
helped her to found Baghdad's great Iraqi Archaeological Museum from
her own modest artefact collection and to establish The British
School of Archaeology, Iraq, for the endowment of excavation projects
from proceeds in her will. The stress of authoring a prodigious
output of books, correspondence, intelligence reports, reference
works, and white papers; of recurring bronchitis attacks brought on
by years of heavy smoking in the company of English and Arab cohorts;
of bouts with malaria; and finally, of coping with Baghdad's summer
heat all took a toll on her health. Somewhat frail to start with, she
became nearly emaciated.
Some consider the
present troubles in Iraq are derived from the political boundaries
Bell conceived, to create its borders. Perhaps so, but her reports
indicate that problems were foreseen, and that it was clearly
understood that there were just not many (if any) permanent solutions
for calming the divisive forces at work in that part of the world.
Mark Sykes, the
British diplomat responsible for the Sykes–Picot Agreement, was not
fond of her. He once described her as
gushing, flat-chested, man-woman, globe-trotting, rumpwagging,
As the dismantling
of the Ottoman Empire was finalised by the end of the war in late
January 1919, Bell was assigned to conduct an analysis of the
situation in Mesopotamia. Due to her familiarity and relations with
the tribes in the area she had strong ideas about the leadership
needed in Iraq. She spent the next ten months writing what was later
considered a masterly official report, "Self Determination in
Mesopotamia". The British Commissioner in Mesopotamia, Arnold
Wilson, had different ideas of how Iraq should be run, preferring an
Arab government to be under the influence of British officials who
would retain real control, as he felt, from experience, that
Mesopotamian populations were not yet ready to govern and administer
the country efficiently and peacefully.
On 11 October 1920,
Percy Cox returned to Baghdad and asked her to continue as Oriental
Secretary, acting as liaison with the forthcoming Arab government.
Gertrude Bell essentially played the role of mediator between the
Arab government and British officials. Bell often had to mediate
between the various groups of Iraq including a majority population of
Shias in the southern region, Sunnis in central Iraq, and the Kurds,
mostly in the northern region, who wished to be autonomous. Keeping
these groups united was essential for political balance in Iraq and
for British imperial interests. Iraq not only contained valuable
resources in oil but would act as a buffer zone, with the help of
Kurds in the north as a standing army in the region to protect
against Turkey, Persia (Iran), and Syria. British officials in
London, especially Churchill, were highly concerned about cutting
heavy costs in the colonies, including the cost of quashing tribal
infighting. Another important project for both the British and new
Iraqi rulers was creating a new identity for these people so that
they would identify themselves as one nation.
quickly realised that their strategies in governing were adding to
costs. Iraq would be cheaper as a self-governing state. The Cairo
Conference of 1921 was held to determine the political and geographic
structure of what later became Iraq and the modern Middle East.
Significant input was given by Gertrude Bell in these discussions
thus she was an essential part of its creation. At the Cairo
Conference Bell and Lawrence highly recommended Faisal bin Hussein,
(the son of Hussein, Sherif of Mecca), former commander of the Arab
forces that helped the British during the war and entered Damascus at
the culmination of the Arab Revolt. He had been recently deposed by
France as King of Syria, and British officials at the Cairo
Conference decided to make him the first king of Iraq. They believed
that due to his lineage as a Hashemite and his diplomatic skills he
would be respected and have the ability to unite the various groups
in the country. Shias would respect him because of his lineage from
Muhammad. Sunnis, including Kurds, would follow him because he was
Sunni from a respected family. Keeping all the groups under control
in Iraq was essential to balance the political and economic interests
of the British Empire.
arrival in 1921, Bell advised him in local questions, including
matters involving tribal geography and local business. She also
supervised the selection of appointees for cabinet and other
leadership posts in the new government.
Throughout the early
1920s Bell was an integral part of the administration of Iraq. The
new Hashemite monarchy used the Sharifian flag, which consisted of a
black stripe representing the Abbasid caliphate, white stripe
representing the Umayyad caliphate, and a green stripe for Fatimid
Dynasty, and lastly a red triangle to set across the three bands
symbolising Islam. Bell felt it essential to customise it for Iraq by
adding a gold star to the design. Faisal was crowned king of Iraq
on 23 August 1921, but he was not completely welcomed. Utilizing
Shi'ite history to gain support for Faisal, during the holy month of
Muharram, Bell compared Faisal's arrival in Baghdad to Husayn,
grandson of Muhammad.
However, she did not
find working with the new king to be easy: "You may rely upon
one thing — I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too
great a strain.
returned to Britain in 1925, and found herself facing family problems
and ill health. Her family's fortune had begun to decline due to the
onset of post-World War I worker strikes in Britain and economic
depression in Europe. She returned to Baghdad and soon developed
pleurisy. When she recovered, she heard that her younger half brother
Hugh had died of typhoid.
On 12 July 1926,
Bell was discovered dead, of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills.
There is much debate on her death, but it is unknown whether the
overdose was an intentional suicide or accidental since she had asked
her maid to wake her.
She was buried at
the British cemetery in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji district. Her
funeral was a major event, attended by large numbers of people
including her colleagues, British officials and the King of Iraq. It
was said King Faisal watched the procession from his private balcony
as they carried her coffin to the cemetery
Bon chic, bon genre
(English: Good style, good attitude) is an expression used in France
to refer to a subculture of stylish members of the Paris upper class.
They are typically well-educated, well-connected, and descended from
"old money" families, preferably with some aristocratic
ancestry. The style combines certain fashionable tastes with the
appearance of social respectability. The expression is sometimes
shortened to "BCBG"
Parallels are often
seen between this subculture and similar upper-class social groups in
the United States ("preppy") and the United Kingdom
("Sloane Rangers"). As with these groups, BCBG drew
mainstream attention during the 1980s. Thierry Mantoux published a
handbook for BCBG style (BCBG - Le Guide du bon chic bon genre) in
the 1980s, a French equivalent to The Official Preppy Handbook and
The Sloane Ranger Handbook, both published earlier in the decade.
The BCBG social
group is not to be confused with the "bobo" Paris fashion
subculture (short for "bohemian bourgeois").
The style of BCBG
tends towards the conservative and classic, to "de-emphasize
'sexiness' and 'flashy' signs of wealth", and is influenced by
The BCBG social
group is associated with certain residential areas in Paris and
Versailles. BCBG are often identified with the "NAP" area
formed by the triangle between Auteuil-Neuilly-Passy, from the 16th
arrondissement to the Bois de Boulogne, as well as the 6th
arrondissement closer to the centre of Paris, and the 7th and 8th
arrondissements for shopping.
In France, if
someone: Salutes kissing hands, resort to the "vous" when
dealing with one's parents, wear Hermes scarves and use Hermes
notebooks for taking notes, use a Montblanc fountain pen, have a
French car, play bridge, love rallies, write letters and answer them
in due time, say "at home" even if that person owns a
castle or an apartment in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, read the social news
published in Le Figaro, talk English with and Oxbridge accent, only
wears clothes and accesories made of natural fabrics like silk,
cotton or tweed, wear ties of the colours of that person's club, like
gaming, play golf and tennis, disregard fashion in all its
expressions, don't talk about one's social origins, prefer dressing
in a conservative fashion, say "la tour", have a priest as
a friend or a relative belonging to the Catholic church, being simple
when entertaining friends, refering to him/herself in a simple
manner, don't like showing his/her feelings, prefering good taste
rather than confort, that person would be called "BCBG".
Fly fishing is an
angling method in which an artificial "fly" is used to
catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized
weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or "lure"
requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms
of casting. Fly fishermen use hand tied flies that resemble natural
invertebrates, baitfish, other food organisms, or "lures"
to provoke the fish to strike (bite at the fly).
Fly fishing can be
done in fresh or salt water. North Americans usually distinguish
freshwater fishing between cold-water species (trout, salmon,
steelhead) and warm-water species, notably bass. In Britain, where
natural water temperatures vary less, the distinction is between game
fishing for trout and salmon versus coarse fishing for other species.
Techniques for fly fishing differ with habitat (lakes and ponds,
small streams, large rivers, bays and estuaries, and open ocean.)
Author Izaak Walton
called fly fishing "The Contemplative Man's Recreation".
Fly fishing is most
renowned as a method for catching trout, grayling and salmon, but it
is also used for a wide variety of species including pike, bass,
panfish, and carp, as well as marine species, such as redfish, snook,
tarpon, bonefish and striped bass. Many fly anglers catch unintended
species such as chub, bream and rudd while fishing for 'main target'
species such as trout. A growing population of anglers attempt to
catch as many different species as possible with the fly. With the
advancement of technology and development of stronger rods and reels,
larger predatory saltwater species such as wahoo, tuna, marlin and
sharks have become target species on fly. Realistically any fish can
be targeted and captured on fly as long as the main food source is
effectively replicated by the fly itself and suitable gear is used.
Other than a few
fragmented references little was written on fly fishing until The
Treatyse on Fysshynge with an Angle was published (1496) within The
Boke of Saint Albans attributed to Dame Juliana Berners. The book
contains instructions on rod, line and hook making and dressings for
different flies to use at different times of the year. By the 15th
century, rods of approximately fourteen feet length with a twisted
line attached at its tips were probably used in England.
The earliest English
poetical treatise on Angling by John Dennys, said to have been a
fishing companion of Shakespeare, was published in 1613, The Secrets
of Angling. Footnotes of the work, written by Dennys' editor, William
Lawson, make the first mention of the phrase to 'cast a fly': "The
trout gives the most gentlemanly and readiest sport of all, if you
fish with an artificial fly, a line twice your rod's length of three
hairs' thickness... and if you have learnt the cast of the fly."
The art of fly
fishing took a great leap forward after the English Civil War, where
a newly found interest in the activity left its mark on the many
books and treatises that were written on the subject at the time. The
renowned officer in the Parliamentary army, Robert Venables,
published in 1662 The Experienced Angler, or Angling improved, being
a general discourse of angling, imparting many of the aptest ways and
choicest experiments for the taking of most sorts of fish in pond or
river. Another Civil War veteran to enthusiastically take up fishing
was Richard Franck. He was the first to describe salmon fishing in
Scotland, and both in that and trout-fishing with artificial fly he
was a practical angler. He was the first angler to name the burbot,
and commended the salmon of the River Thames.
The Compleat Angler
was written by Izaak Walton in 1653 (although Walton continued to add
to it for a quarter of a century) and described the fishing in the
Derbyshire Wye. It was a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing
in prose and verse; 6 verses were quoted from John Dennys's earlier
work. A second part to the book was added by Walton's friend Charles
Walton did not
profess to be an expert with a fishing fly; the fly fishing in his
first edition was contributed by Thomas Barker, a retired cook and
humorist, who produced a treatise of his own in 1659; but in the use
of the live worm, the grasshopper and the frog "Piscator"
himself could speak as a master. The famous passage about the frog,
often misquoted as being about the worm—"use him as though you
loved him, that is, harm him as little as you may possibly, that he
may live the longer"—appears in the original edition. Cotton's
additions completed the instruction in fly fishing and advised on the
making of artificial flies where he listed sixty five varieties.
designed an improved fishing hook in 1655 that remains relatively
unchanged to this day. He went on to invent the Kirby bend, a
distinctive hook with an offset point, still commonly used today.
Trading card of the
Ustonson company, an early firm specializing in fishing equipment,
and holder of a Royal Warrant from the 1760s.
The 18th century was
mainly an era of consolidation of the techniques developed in the
previous century. Running rings began to appear along the fishing
rods, which gave anglers greater control over the cast line. The rods
themselves were also becoming increasingly sophisticated and
specialized for different roles. Jointed rods became common from the
middle of the century and bamboo came to be used for the top section
of the rod, giving it a much greater strength and flexibility.
The industry also
became commercialized - rods and tackle were sold at the haberdashers
store. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, artisans moved to
Redditch which became a centre of production of fishing related
products from the 1730s. Onesimus Ustonson established his trading
shop in 1761, and his establishment remained as a market leader for
the next century. He received a Royal Warrant and became the official
supplier of fishing tackle to three successive monarchs starting with
King George IV over this period.
Some have credited
Onesimus with the invention of the multiplying winch, although he was
certainly the first to advertise its sale. Early multiplying reels
were wide and had a small diameter, and their gears, made of brass,
often wore down after extensive use. His earliest advertisement in
the form of a trading card date from 1768 and was entitled To all
lovers of angling. A full list of the tackles he sold included
artificial flies, and 'the best sort of multiplying brass winches
both stop and plain'. The commercialization of the industry came at a
time of expanded interest in fishing as a recreational hobby for
members of the aristocracy.
The impact of the
Industrial Revolution was first felt in the manufacture of fly lines.
Instead of anglers twisting their own lines - a laborious and
time-consuming process - the new textile spinning machines allowed
for a variety of tapered lines to be easily manufactured and
continued to develop in the 19th Century, with the emergence of fly
fishing clubs, along with the appearance of several books on the
subject of fly tying and fly fishing techniques.
Alfred Ronalds took
up the sport of fly fishing, learning the craft on the rivers Trent,
Blythe and Dove. On the River Blythe, near what is today Creswell
Green, Ronalds constructed a bankside fishing hut designed primarily
as an observatory of trout behaviour in the river. From this hut, and
elsewhere on his home rivers, Ronalds conducted experiments and
formulated the ideas that eventually were published in The
Fly-fisher's Entomology in 1836.
He combined his
knowledge of fly fishing with his skill as an engraver and printer,
to lavish his work with 20 color plates. It was the first
comprehensive work related to the entomology associated with fly
fishing and most fly-fishing historians credit Ronalds with setting a
literature standard in 1836 that is still followed today. Describing
methods, techniques and, most importantly, artificial flies, in a
meaningful way for the angler and illustrating them in colour is a
method of presentation that can be seen in most fly-fishing
The book was mostly
about the aquatic insects—mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies—that
trout and grayling feed on and their counterpart artificial
imitations. About half the book is devoted to observations of trout,
their behaviour, and the methods and techniques used to catch them.
Most of this information, although enhanced by Ronalds' experiences
and observations, was merely an enhancement of Charles Bowlker's Art
of Angling (first published in 1774 but still in print in 1836).
In Chapter IV - Of a
Selection of Insects, and Their Imitations, Used in Fly Fishing - for
the first time is discussed specific artificial fly imitations by
name, associated with the corresponding natural insect. Organized by
their month of appearance, Ronalds was the first author to begin the
standardization of angler names for artificial flies. Prior to The
Fly-fisher's Entomology, anglers had been given suggestions for
artificial flies to be used on a particular river or at a particular
time of the year, but those suggestions were never matched to
specific natural insects the angler might encounter on the water.
According to Ernest Schwiebert: "Ronalds is one of the major
milestones in the entire literature of fly-fishing, and with his
Entomology the scientific method has reached angling in full flower.
Ronalds was completely original in its content and research, setting
the yardstick for all subsequent discussion and illustration of
aquatic fly hatches.
Modern reel design
had begun in England during the latter part of the 18th century, and
the predominant model in use was known as the 'Nottingham reel'. The
reel was a wide drum which spooled out freely, and was ideal for
allowing the bait to drift a long way out with the current. Geared
multiplying reels never successfully caught on in Britain, but had
more success in the United States, where similar models were modified
by George Snyder of Kentucky into his bait-casting reel, the first
American-made design, in 1810.
The material used
for the rod itself changed from the heavy woods native to England, to
lighter and more elastic varieties imported from abroad, especially
from South America and the West Indies. Bamboo rods became the
generally favoured option from the mid-19th century, and several
strips of the material were cut from the cane, milled into shape, and
then glued together to form light, strong, hexagonal rods with a
solid core that were superior to anything that preceded them. George
Cotton and his predecessors fished their flies with long rods and
light lines, allowing the wind to do most of the work of getting the
fly to the fish.
Fishing became a
popular recreational activity in the 19th century. Print from Currier
Tackle design began
to improve from the 1880s. The introduction of new woods to the
manufacture of fly rods made it possible to cast flies into the wind
on silk lines, instead of horse hair. These lines allowed for a much
greater casting distance. However, these early fly lines proved
troublesome as they had to be coated with various dressings to make
them float and needed to be taken off the reel and dried every four
hours or so to prevent them from becoming waterlogged. Another
negative consequence was that it became easy for the much longer line
to get into a tangle – this was called a 'tangle' in Britain, and a
'backlash' in the US. This problem spurred the invention of the
regulator to evenly spool the line out and prevent tangling.
An American, Charles
F. Orvis, designed and distributed a novel reel and fly design in
1874, described by reel historian Jim Brown as the "benchmark of
American reel design", and the first fully modern fly
reel. The founding of The Orvis Company helped
institutionalize fly fishing by supplying angling equipment via the
circulation of his tackle catalogs, distributed to a small but
devoted customer list.
1st Baron Illingworth, a textiles magnate, patented the modern form
of fixed-spool spinning reel in 1905. When casting Illingworth's reel
design, the line was drawn off the leading edge of the spool, but was
restrained and rewound by a line pickup, a device which orbits around
the stationary spool. Because the line did not have to pull against a
rotating spool, much lighter lures could be cast than with
By the mid to late
19th century, expanding leisure opportunities for the middle and
lower classes began to have its effect on fly fishing, which steadily
grew in mass appeal. The expansion of the railway network in Britain
allowed the less affluent for the first time to take weekend trips to
the seaside or to rivers for fishing. Richer hobbyists ventured
further abroad. The large rivers of Norway replete with large
stocks of salmon began to attract fishermen from England in large
numbers in the middle of the century - Jones's guide to Norway, and
salmon-fisher's pocket companion, published in 1848, was written by
Frederic Tolfrey and was a popular guide to the country.
In southern England,
dry-fly fishing acquired an elitist reputation as the only acceptable
method of fishing the slower, clearer rivers of the south such as the
River Test and the other chalk streams concentrated in Hampshire,
Surrey, Dorset and Berkshire (see Southern England Chalk Formation
for the geological specifics). The weeds found in these rivers tend
to grow very close to the surface, and it was felt necessary to
develop new techniques that would keep the fly and the line on the
surface of the stream. These became the foundation of all later
However, there was
nothing to prevent the successful employment of wet flies on these
chalk streams, as George Edward MacKenzie Skues proved with his nymph
and wet fly techniques. To the horror of dry-fly purists, Skues later
wrote two books, Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream, and The Way of a
Trout with a Fly, which greatly influenced the development of wet fly
fishing. In northern England and Scotland, many anglers also favored
wet-fly fishing, where the technique was more popular and widely
practiced than in southern England. One of Scotland’s leading
proponents of the wet fly in the early-to-mid 19th century was W.C.
Stewart, who published "The Practical Angler" in 1857.
In the United
States, attitudes toward methods of fly fishing were not nearly as
rigidly defined, and both dry- and wet-fly fishing were soon adapted
to the conditions of the country. Fly anglers there are thought to be
the first anglers to have used artificial lures for bass fishing.
After pressing into service the fly patterns and tackle designed for
trout and salmon to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, they began
to adapt these patterns into specific bass flies. Fly anglers seeking
bass developed the spinner/fly lure and bass popper fly, which are
still used today.
In the late 19th
century, American anglers, such as Theodore Gordon in the Catskill
Mountains of New York, began using fly tackle to fish the region’s
brook trout-rich streams such as the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creek.
Many of these early American fly anglers also developed new fly
patterns and wrote extensively about their sport, increasing the
popularity of fly fishing in the region and in the United States as a
whole.Albert Bigelow Paine, a New England author, wrote about fly
fishing in The Tent Dwellers, a book about a three-week trip he and a
friend took to central Nova Scotia in 1908.
Participation in fly
fishing peaked in the early 1920s in the eastern states of Maine and
Vermont and in the Midwest in the spring creeks of Wisconsin. Along
with deep sea fishing, Ernest Hemingway did much to popularize fly
fishing through his works of fiction, including The Sun Also Rises.
Fly fishing in
Australia took off when brown trout were first introduced by the
efforts of Edward Wilson's Acclimatisation Society of Victoria with
the aim to "provide for manly sport which will lead Australian
youth to seek recreation on the river's bank and mountainside rather
than in the Cafe and Casino. " The first successful transfer
of Brown Trout ova (from the Itchen and Wye) was accomplished by
James Arndell Youl, with a consignment aboard The Norfolk in 1864.
Rainbow Trout were not introduced until 1894.
It was the
development of inexpensive fiberglass rods, synthetic fly lines, and
monofilament leaders, however, in the early 1950s, that revived the
popularity of fly fishing. In recent years, interest in fly fishing
has surged as baby boomers have discovered the sport. Movies such as
Robert Redford's film A River Runs Through It, starring Craig Sheffer
and Brad Pitt, cable fishing shows, and the emergence of a
competitive fly casting circuit have added to the sport's visibility.