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Suffrage, but not for me

Gertrude Bell was one of the most successful women of her age. So why didn’t she want the vote?

By Kitty Fitzgerald   November 2009

How many firsts does a woman need to feel she has achieved success in a man’s world? For Gertrude Bell the answer was as many as possible. She was the first woman to be awarded a degree at Oxford, the first to work for British military intelligence, and also the first to write a government white paper. And she became one of the world’s leading Arabists, instrumental in the creation of Iraq, for which she was later awarded a CBE. Not bad going.

Bell was born in 1868 to a wealthy county Durham family; her father made his money from…

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