Lord Cromer and Gertrude Bell

Roger Owen considers bell’s impact on the much maligned consul-general of Egypt.

On New Year’s Eve 1906 Gertrude Bell went to dinner with the first Lord Cromer (1841-1917) at his Nile-side British residence in Cairo. It was an obligatory port of call for all those aspiring to what Benjamin Disraeli once called ‘a career in the east’. Cromer had been in charge of Britain’s occupation of Egypt since 1883, and had established a reputation for himself as an expert in the government of what he called ‘eastern peoples’. Others to make the same pilgrimage to Cromer’s table were Mark Sykes, one of the architects of the First World War division of the Middle East, and George Lloyd, a future High Commissioner of Egypt.

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