THE life and times of a woman who played a pivotal role in the creation of modern day Iraq is to be the focus of a new exhibition celebrating her life.

The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell tells the story of the explorer's impact on the Middle East at the end of the First World War when new countries and borders were drawn in the sand.

Famed for her work creating Iraq, the Oxford University educated modern history graduate worked alongside the legendary TE Lawrence of Arabia to divide the Arabic nations.

Kirkleatham Museum, which has worked in collaboration between the Gertrude Bell Archive, based at Newcastle University, and the Great North Museum: Hancock, is hosting the exhibition until January next year.

Cllr Carl Quartermain, cabinet member for jobs, skills and leisure said: “I am very pleased to see that Kirkleatham Museum will be playing host to an exhibition on one of the most extraordinary women of the last 150 years who has made a lasting impact on the world.

“Many of the exhibits have never been on display before, so it is an exhibition not to be missed.”

Born in Washington Hall, she lived in Red Barns on Kirkleatham Street in Redcar during her early years before becoming the first woman to get a First Class degree at Oxford.

As well as a historian, she was an archaeologist and mountaineer, who climbed Mont Blanc at the turn of the 1900s, and her fascination with the Middle East saw her spend ten years exploring the region.

The knowledge she gained was put to use when she was instrumental in drumming up support from native tribes to the British campaign against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. After the war, she would assist the Government in drawing the borders for modern day Iraq and Jordan.

Her amazing life story will be showcased at Kirkleatham Museum from Saturday, May 28, to January 2017 with diaries, letters, pictures and other items from her life all on display to the public.

To find out more about the exhibit go to: or to learn more about Gertrude Bell, visit: