Celebrate May Day and Mother’s Day with Great Reads 

First Lines is a series of blog articles posted on around the first of the month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. For these two special occasions I’ve collected novels and short reads in a range of genres including women’s literary fiction, LGBTQ+ stories, fairy tales, romantic fantasies, to paranormal and time travel, classics, psychological stories, dystopian, post apocalyptic, and space colonization. Does one of these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more?

Image of the colorful pop-art-style shows a portion of a woman's head and is the cover of The Mothers.

We didn’t believe it when we first heard it because you know how church folk can gossip.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett  

I thought making love to the Sun was the most unendurable pain I would ever experience.

Star Mother by Charlie N. Holmberg

I skipped up the steps to Ava’s house, glaring at them as I went, not trusting that the boards would stay in place. 

Faery Odd-Mother
Witching After Forty Book 8
by Lia Davis and L.A. Boruff

For the tenth time, Kay nervously looks up at the departures hologram as we pass through security.

Hamartia by Raquel Rich

Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. 

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Hallelujah! One more consultation and I was free. 

Flowers, Felons, & Families 
The Magical Midlife Flower Farm Series Book 1
by Lucia Kuhl 

The full-bellied moon cast a silver sheen across Vateshram Forest, the shadows stark against their illuminated backdrop.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom,
Crystal Bloom Book One
by Sarah A. Parker 

Are we crazy?” It wasn’t the first time I had asked that, and I doubted it would be the last time before we got to where we were going.

The Morning Flower: The Omte Origins
From the World of the Trylle
by Amanda Hocking 

Set it down there, on the back table I’m using for a workbench,” Mouser said. “What do you think of my new location?

Bits of Flower
EarthCent Metaverse Book 2
by E. M. Foner 

It is a good day.

My room is bright and all my toys are here, even the ones Mother thinks I’ve outgrown.

“Mother, Mother, will you play with Me?” by Seanan McGuire from
Mother of Invention: extraordinary short stories about gender
editors Rivqa Rafael and Tansy Rayner Roberts 

Their treads tucked tight to their bodies, their wings outspread, they headed north in tight formation.

The Mother Code by Carole Stivers

Two men monitored the operation from the safety their ground vehicle on a ridge twelve kilometers from the crater.

Mother of Mars
The Destin Chronicles Book 7
by D.M. Pruden 


There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More?

I have to say, I want to read many of these. Especially Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It is one of my most memorable reads. I’ve put it on my list to re-read again—soon. 

Did you enjoy this list? Check out previous First Lines posts. Please take a moment to share in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it?

Story Time Reviews: Entanglement

Image of star-studded space with a red, whirling cloud whose center is a black hole.

Story Time Reviews is a blog series that offers reviews of stories both read and read aloud. Today’s Story Time, Reviews Entanglement. Eris (Ruari McDonnell) is the author of Entanglement ©2017. Astra (Jordan Scherer) is the narrator. The story first aired on the Bad Astra podcast on Spotify, January 28, 2021. (Also available on Apple, and many other platforms.) 

It first appeared on the Bad Astra YouTube channel on February 5, 2021. It is 24:12 minutes long.

The Story

This short story starts with an absolutely fascinating “what if” question in the narrator’s first line. 

“Falling into a black hole is always a violent death, but the pain levels vary.”

The narrator discusses the pain levels possible depending upon the size of the black hole and how fast you fall victim to spagettification. Spagettification is a word coined by Stephen Hawking as a joke, but now is an official term, she says. She tells us that in 2384, a witness saw a person sucked into a black hole. And gives us basic information about black holes, particularly entangled black holes.

Then the narrator tells us she “is essentially, a disembodied consciousness at the mercy of her new home, in an entangled set of black holes.” 

The Story Develops

We learn our narrator was an astrobiologist searching for intelligent life outside of humanity with her co-worker/employees. One night she gets talked into taking a night off to a karaoke bar with her co-workers. After a few too many drinks, a singularly beautiful woman walks in and the astrobiologist is smitten. She slurs through a pickup line which the beauty says was “really, really bad.” Still, there aren’t many people to talk to, so they talk. Just as the astrobiologist believes she is going to be invited to the young woman’s room, she blacks out. When she wakes, she thinks the pain she feels is from a hangover.

I’m hooked!

I won’t tell you anymore about the story so as not to spoil your enjoyment should you listen to it. There’s nothing ground breaking about the plot. But I will tell you it kept my attention all the way through, even when “editor-me” noticed an anachronism or two. 

The Author

Ruari McDonnell is a self-described “narcissist” who does not have a website. I found this photograph and a short bio on LinkedIn.

“I’m a writer with an absurdist sense of humor steeped in existential dread, but in the best way. My background in theater and film has resulted in an intimate understanding of production and engaging script development. While my parents ruined my dreams of being an astronaut, I’ve channeled my passion for STEM into my science communication career path and into the foundation of Bad Astra. I graduated DePaul University summa cum laude with a BA in English, so I am certifiably literate. I’m happy to chat about writing, content development, and baking. Let me tell your story.”

The Voice Talent

Photo of a young woman with long auburnish hair, Jordan Scherer, wearing a bright blue shirt and has a necklace with a large amber-looking stone.

Jordan Scherer (she/her) has an engaging voice with a nice range of tones and inflections. It’s the type of voice talent that allows you to immerse yourself in the story.

On ACX Ms. Scherer describes herself as “just a queer engineer living the dream in Chicago and moonlighting as a voice actress.” (Her photo is also from LinkedIn.)

“Bad Astra is a science comedy YouTube series which makes astronomy, physics, more accessible for adults through comedy, simple explanations, and more costume changes than math.”

“As Astra, the host, I research interesting scientific topics, co-write scripts with my business partner, film and perform those scripts, and edit videos for a YouTube audience. I also interview scientists about their research, with a focus on promoting representation of women and BIPOC scientists.”

from LinkedIn

On ACX her credits include: Women of Resistance (Audiobook-Poetry), The Revolution Bell (In Production; Audiobook-Poetry), Falling Gracefully (Audiobook-Romance), Amelia Earhart and Her Life (Audiobook-Kids), The Dancer series (Audiobook-Fantasy), Jolly Jokes for Kids series, books 1-10 (Audiobook-Kids), Billy Bear Runs Away (Audiobook-Kids), The German Girl (Audiobook-Kids), Magic and Fantasy (Audiobook-Kids), BCC (Audiobook-Romance), and The Kitten Who Didn’t Know How to Meow (Audiobook-Kids).

My Opinion

I loved this story. The point of view character’s voice is authentic, conversational, and relatable. She wonders if one of her coworker’s “goal in life was to fulfill all the classic space nerd stereotypes.” She finds fault in the karaoke bar’s name while admitting she understands that the bar’s name is a play on words and she doesn’t like bars. Her idea of a good time is “reading essays on quantum mechanics or Sudoku.” 

The author uses some great metaphors with strong story-themed words. Words like: “eyes like a solar prominence,” and a “cacophony of what sounded like a spacecraft being crushed by an intense gravitational field.”

The story made me laugh out loud several times. It’s a full-circle story that this listener found satisfying. If you like science fiction, appreciate some snark, and actual science in your fiction, you’ll like this story.


I’ve already said it, but it bears repeating. I love this story. It’s layered, has a few twists, and is a complete story. Could it be improved? Perhaps, but you don’t need perfection when the character, the plot, the narrator voice, and the scientific information all blend into an engaging story. 

If you liked this review, you might like other Story Time Reviews posts.

Did you listen to this story?

What did you think? 

Image Credit

Top image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Story Time Reviews: “Glow Worm” by Harlan Ellison

Image is the inside of a crumbling building in a greenish light. The ceiling is gone except for a lacy structure, the floor is littered with debris.

Story Time Reviews is a blog series that offers reviews of stories both read and read aloud. Today Story Time Reviews “Glow Worm” by Harlan Ellison presented by The Lost Sci Fi Podcast, narrated by Scott Miller. The episode lasts 29:22 minutes, part of that time is used to give a brief bio of the author.

The story, “Glow Worm,” was originally published in 1955 with the publisher listed as Royal Publications, Inc. The story’s release date is recorded as February 8, 2022 on Guttenburg. 

The Story

He was the last man on Earth, all right. But—was he still a man?

This short story is the tale of a man, Seligman, who is the result of experiments to make a super soldier. The last man on Earth because many had gone to the stars and because those who were left behind were the ones “who knew no other answer,” “the ones who fathered the Attilas, the Genghis Khans, the Hitlers.” 

The war is over and not a life form on Earth has survived, except Seligman. In his depression, he asks himself why? Why did he alone survive? 

Slowly, he recognizes symptoms of the physical changes that allow him to survive. Were the changes the results of the experiments or the radiation he endured, or both? Ultimately, he recognizes he has a new purpose and that he decides he must fulfill that purpose. 

The Author

Portrait of a younger Harlan Ellison at a convention

For a brief time, I was here; and for a brief time, I mattered.

Harlan Ellison, from the Afterword to The Essential Ellison

Harlan Ellison, (1934-2018), was a prolific author, editor, comic book script writer, teleplay writer, movie script writer, voice actor, and activist. He wrote more than 1700 stories, novels, essays, and columns. He wrote television and movie scripts and, as a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), he has many VoiceOver credits. You have likely seen or heard his work if you watched Star Trek or Babylon 5 or The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits (or many other non-SF shows).His works are too many for me to list here. Either his official website or the Ellison Wikipedia entry would be a good place to search for a list of his credits. 

People have described Ellison as caustic, cantankerous, abrasive, argumentative, pugilistic (occasionally), and always tenacious. He was as flamboyant as he was fearless in pursuing a story (check out the story behind his first novel, Rumble) or in fighting against plagiarism or contract violations or for civil rights. 

His work experiences were many and included a two-year stint in the army.

He had four different brief marriages before he found his mate and his match, Susan (Toth). They’d been married 32 years at the time of his death.

The Voice Talent

In Scott Miller’s introduction to the first episode of the Lost Sci Fi Podcast, he states that his podcast, and his audiobooks are his “passion project.” At the time he wrote his introduction, he’d been narrating audiobooks for a decade. On March 21st of this year, he published his 64th episode. 

The Lost SciFi Podcast publishes weekly episodes with at least one vintage science fiction story read aloud each week. Miller features vintage stories that were written 60-100 years ago. “You can listen to any episode you want, in any order you want….” He calls these vintage stories Lost Sci-Fi Short Stories from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

The podcast is available everywhere podcasts appear, including Spotify, Apple, and YouTube. Mr. Miller has also created audiobooks of the stories he’s read on his podcast. They are available on his website and on Chirp.

My Opinion

I had the good fortune to meet Harlan Ellison more than once at various science fiction conventions. He tolerated my presence, possibly because I usually came with one of my friends who was also a close friend of his. I saw his temper displayed more than once, sometimes unjustly, often at an individual who could have behaved better. (This is not an excuse for Ellison’s behavior.) 

It was my great pleasure to hear Ellison read one of his stories aloud. His vocal display was spellbinding. He confessed that he’d spent a great deal of time learning how to use his voice. I wish I’d heard him read more of his works.

I wish I could have heard Ellison read this story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Miller’s version.

Scott Miller, of the Lost Sci Fi Podcast, reads this story well. His voice is a baritone with a bit of gravel. It’s not overly theatrical and uses good inflection and tone. In other words, he gets out of the way of the story and lets his voice be a vehicle so you can enjoy the ride of the story.

In typical Harlan Ellison style, this post-apocalyptic story is told in a 3rd person distant voice. As a writer, I notice he overuses the word “suddenly” and he’s fond of phrases that begin with “as.” There are sentence structures and word choices that belong to an older time, but these are minor. I love Ellison’s descriptions. Some of my favorite of his phrases include: “… dawn oozed up…,” “the final dust of extinction…,” and “coughed brokenly.”


Glow Worm is a satisfying story. It explores themes that interest me and that remain relevant today. Where do we draw the line on experiments to improve humankind? What would I do if I were the last alive on the planet? Or if I discovered I had changed as much as Seligman? What would you do? 

If you have 20 minutes, I hope you listen to this story.

Have you read or listened to “Glow Worm” by Harlan Ellison? Please share what you thought of the story.

If you liked this, check out my other Story Time Reviews posts.

Image Credits

Top Image by 66kim from Pixabay 

Photo of Harlan Ellison by Pip R. Lagenta, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (also marked Copyright 2006 by Galen A. Tripp)







The Daughter of the Desert

The story of the dashing British officer, known as Lawrence of Arabia, credits him with leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I. He’s a legend of history. Yet, there is another whose story we should know. The “Daughter of the Desert,” Gertrude Bell, made archeological, sociological, and political contributions to history. Significant enough, we should recognize her name along with (or more than) Lawrence of Arabia’s. Yet, history forgot or overlooked her story, a woman’s story, for years.

Early Life

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE, was born on the 14th of July 1868 in Washington, England. She had the good fortune of being born into a wealthy British family. Her grandfather was the Ironmaster Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell (1816-1904), an industrialist and a Liberal member of Parliament. Her father, Sir Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet, (1844-1931) was a progressive capitalist and mill owner. He made certain his workers were paid fair wages and had paid sick days. Her mother, Maria (née Shield) Bell, died after the birth of her second child, Gertrude’s brother, Maurice. Gertrude was three.

Gertrude’s father married Florence Ollie, a playwright and author) when Gertrude was seven. Florence eventually gave birth to Gertrude’s three half-siblings, Hugh, Florence, and Mary3. Gertrude, already close to her Father, grew close to her step-mother as well.

She was outspoken and independent and enjoyed horseback riding, among other activities. Her father and stepmother realized Gertrude wasn’t like the other girls. When she wasn’t reading or writing, she engaged in various “naughty behaviors” like scaling cliffs and other heights3. Unlike the parents of most girls of her class, who were tutored at home, her parents sent Gertrude to school.


At first, fifteen-year-old Gertrude was unhappy at Queen’s College, a girl’s school in London. But her insatiable appetite for learning helped her adjust. She excelled at her studies. 

Normally, at seventeen, girls in her class were presented at court and introduced to society. Society expected them to find a husband within three seasons. 

Gertrude completed her schooling at Queen’s College in 1886 and asked her father for permission to continue her studies at Oxford, which had recently allowed females to be included in certain programs. She first met T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) during her studies there. In 1888, she was the first woman to graduate in Modern History at Oxford. Hers was an honorary degree. Only males received academic degrees.

Social Life & Travel

She went to Bucharest with her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles, and his family. Visits to Paris and other European cities followed. 

From 1890 to 1892, she made the rounds of London’s balls and banquets where young ladies met eligible bachelors, but didn’t find her match.

Gertrude’s uncle, Lascelles, became British minister at Tehran, Persia (Iraq). She joined him in May 1892, where she studied the Arabic and Persian languages. Describing Persia as “paradise,” Gertrude spent six months there and wrote a book, Persian Pictures, about her time there.

She took advantage of her privilege and family wealth to travel widely. Her travels include a world tour with her brother Maurice and a trip to Italy with her father. During her Alpine climbing adventures, she recorded ten new paths or first ascents in the Bernese Alps. Once she suffered frostbite after she and her guides clung to a rope on the side of a cliff for forty-eight hours during a terrifying storm of snow, hail, and lightning. 

Gertrude traveled to Turkey, Germany, and Jerusalem. She visited ancient sites in Syria, Lebonon, and Athens. All the while, she studied languages. She mastered Arabic, Persian (Farsi), Italian, French, German, and Turkish.

She Loved the Desert

But the Mesopotamia was the area she returned to over and over. She hired a guide, Fattuh, who became her confidante.

Throughout her travels to the desert, she learned about the people and cultures, established close relations with inhabitants and tribes. Being a woman, she could meet the wives and daughters of local notables. She didn’t take as much advantage of this as she might have. Her principal focus was meeting the shaikhs and leaders of Arab society.

Love Life

It was in Tehran that she met one of her uncle’s secretary, Henry Cadogan. She and Cadogan bonded over their love of poetry by Hafiz. They spent a lot of time together and eventually announced their engagement. Unfortunately, Cadogan was poor and in debt. Gertrude’s father would not approve the match. She returned to England to convince her parents to give their permission for her to marry Cadogan. While in England, Cadogan had died of pneumonia2 in 1893. Gertrude was heartbroken. She left England for Italy and Switzerland.

Her second chance at love came fourteen years later. She met the married British officer, Charles “Richard” Doughty-Wylie, in 1907. They never acted upon their feeling but exchanged letters expressing deep devotion to each other. He was killed in action at Gallipoli in April 1915. 

Some claim Gertrude, not Mrs. Doughty-Wylie, laid a wreath on his grave in November of that year.

Writing & Photography

In 1886, Gertrude published Persian Pictures, a photographic account of her trips to the Persian area. 

She published a book of poems translated from Persian to English, The Divan of Hafez, in 1897. It continues to be regarded as the best translation of that poet’s work in existence3

During her first solo journey through the desert in 1899, she photographed ancient sites, including Petra, Palmyra, and Baalbek. Once she learned photography and how to develop her photographs, she always took her camera and photographic equipment on her trips. Some of her photographs are the only remaining evidence of some antiquities that were destroyed later. 


Her grandfather died in 1904 and left her a large inheritance. She used the money to fund an archeological trip through the Near East. During the latter part of that trip, she hired Fattuh, her guide and confidante who traveled with her through the desert for years. 

In 1907, she published Syria: The Desert and the Sown, a book of her photographs and observations about the Middle East. She explored and mapped a swath from the remotest parts of Syria to the Persian Gulf. 

She co-wrote The Thousand and One Churches with Sir William M. Ramsay in 1909.

She published Amaranth to Amaranth in 1911 and The Palace and Mosque of Ukhaidir: A Study in Early Mohammadan Architecture in 1914.


A black and white photograph of the Gates of Ha'il taken by Gertrude Bell. The wall with it's open gate looks similar to a castle wall only with tooth-like projections from the top of the wall. To the left is a tall rectangular wall with small square windows. The top of the building has the same style projections on the top. To the right the wall bends at a forty five degree angle then turns op degrees and continues off the picture. At some distance behind that turn is a conical tower like structure. There are people standing in front of the wall near the open gates but they are too distant to see distinctly.

Gertrude met archaeologist David Hogarth in Italy during a trip there with her father. It was then she began an in-depth study of Greek antiquities3.

In Binbirkilise, she worked with Sir William M. Ramsay, an archeologist and New Testament scholar. Gertrude, Ramsay, and their staff excavated destroyed churches and buildings from the Byzantine era. 

Also in 1909, in the Hittite city of Carchemish, Gertrude met art historian Josef Strzygowski. He believed that Near East art, architecture, as well as religious and cultural concepts, influenced those of Europe. She worked with him on in writing about the influence of Armenian architecture on Europe.

It was also in Carchemish that she met her old school friend T. E. Lawrence again. Their friendship rekindled. They exchanged letters for years.

In 1909, Fattuh led her to the Fortress of Al-Ukhaydir (c750-775 CE), which no Westerner had yet seen. Gertrude mapped, measured, and photographed Ukhaydir. She wrote home about how her discovery would make her name a recognized archeologist2.  On her return, she visited archeologist Robert Koldewey’s site and team at Babylon. She told them of her discovery. Several of them quickly went to the fortress, photographed it and published their work in 1912, beating her publication date of 1914.

World War I

In August 1914, the British entered World War I. The Ottoman Empire entered the war in late fall. After a highly placed friend’s recommendation, the British War Office asked Gertrude for her assessment of the situation in Ottoman Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia. Her response detailed her thoughts.

Gertrude volunteered with the Red Cross in France and England. She served as part of the Wounded & Missing Enquiry Department that coordinated communications about the wounded and casualties between army, hospitals, and worried families.


The leaders of the Arab Bureau summoned her to Cairo in November 2015. Headed by Colonel G. Clayton and Lt. Cmdr. David Hogarth (the archeologist and historian she’d worked with). T. E. Lawrence was also there. He had joined the Arab bureau in late 1914. 

As part of the Arab Bureau, she spent part of her time in British India, then in Basra. She joined the staff of Chief Political Office Perry Cox. She traveled the region from Basra to Baghdad, assessed the locals reactions, wrote reports, and drew maps. An unpaid position at first, it became a formal paid position in June 1916. She became the first and only female political officer in the British forces2. There was no established way to address females. They addressed her as Major Miss. She impressed many, others mocked her.

To win against the Ottomans, the British promised Sharif Hussein arms and advisers. They sent T. E. Lawrence to help conduct a guerrilla war against them, focusing on the railway. Later, David Hogarth credited Gertrude’s intelligence on the region for the success of the Arab Revolt. 

Oriental Secretary

On March 10, 1917, the British forces took Baghdad. Cox called Gertrude back to Baghdad and made her Oriental Secretary.

Despite a secret agreement in 1916 between the British, Italians, and Imperial Russians to divide the land between them, Gertrude argued for the free Arab state promised to Hussein. In April 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, which promised Palestine to the Zionist movement as an autonomous Jewish state. Hussein understood he would receive Palestine while the French thought it promised to them in 1916.

In late 1917, Gertrude stayed in the hospital for exhaustion.

The war ended November 1918. 

They assigned Gertrude to “sort out the Middle East Problem”. She wrote up an official report, “Self Determination in Mesopotamia” which detailed the creation of an independent state, Iraq. British officials didn’t believe the people were capable of self-government.

A New Country 

A black and white photograph of the sphinx in the background with members of the Cairo Conference on Camelback in the foreground. Gertrude Bell sits on a Camel between Churchill and Lawerence.

After the Iraqi Revolt in 1920, Gertrude and T. E. Lawrence suggested Faisal bin Hussein (r. 1921-1933), son of Sharif Hussein, be the King Western-friendly Iraq. The Cairo Conference of 1921 approved of this idea. It became Gertrude’s responsibility to advise Faisal I on how to govern. She encouraged him to preserve the history of Mesopotamia. In 1922 she helped Faisal establish the Baghdad Antiquities Museum (now the Iraq Museum) with artifacts donated from her own private collection. She drew the boundaries of the newly founded country, which also established the boundaries of Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Many of her friends left Iraq in the early 1920s, including Percy Cox. Gertrude stayed on as the Oriental Secretary when Henry Dobbs became the new High Commissioner. But Dobbs consulted her less frequently than Cox. She was no longer consulted as much by Faisal, either. This may have left her depressed.

By 1925, she returned to England with severe health problems for a brief stay. 

The war and subsequent coal strikes had exhausted her family’s fortune. They planned to move out of their mansion to reduce costs. About that time, Gertrude returned to Baghdad.

She developed pleurisy soon after.


On July 12, 1926, her maid discovered Gertrude dead of an overdose of allobarbital sleeping pills. It is unknown whether it was an accidental overdose or intentional suicide. She had asked to be awakened in the morning, but she’d also made arrangements for her new dog to be looked after and had written to her mother about how lonely she was. 

A large crowd attended her funeral. King Faisal watched the funeral procession from his balcony. They buried her in the Anglican cemetery in Baghdad’s Bab al-Sharji district4.


Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE, left an astounding legacy. The boundary lines of Iraq that she drew remain today. Her work documenting archeology in the desert is priceless by many. Scholar, author, translator, and adventurer, Gertrude’s books, military documents, and personal letters remain fascinating. 

Dedicated to her memory, a stain glass window is in St. Lawrence’s Church, East Reunion, North Yorkshire. 

In the 2010s, John Miers, the cartoonist, and a team from Newcastle University released a comic book version of her life.

An exhibit at the Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar memorializes her family home. 

Newcastle University’s Gertrude Bell archive was added to UNESCO Memory of the World Program in 2017.

A new genus of wild bees discovered in Saudi Arabia were named Belliturgula najdica to honor her.

Films that include portions of her life include: A Dangerous Man: Lawrence of Arabia (1992), the film, Queen of the Desert (2015), chronicles her life (though not all of it is factual), and the 2016 documentary, Letters from Baghdad

Besides the books Gertrude wrote, her step-mother curated and published the first of two volumes of Gertrude’s correspondence in 1927.

Final Thoughts

The Daughter of the Desert is an address some Arabian people gave Gertrude. She may not have been born there, but she cared enough about the area to spend much of her time and energy there.

This blog post, though long, doesn’t truly do justice to her work and influence. Her mix of interests, her zest for adventure, her willingness to buck the system, made her an amazing woman of history. 

If you liked this post, you may like my other posts about women of history.

Had you heard of Gertrude Bell before? Did you know she was a contemporary of Lawrence of Arabia?


1. “The Controversial Story of Gertrude Bell, the British Desert Queen of Iraq,” Yesterday is History.

2. “The Woman Who Made Iraq,” The Atlantic.

3. World History.org 

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Bell

Image Credits:

  1. Eight yr old & father : Edward Poynter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  
  2. Bell & Fattuh outside a tent, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
  3. The Gates of Ha’il, Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  4. Under the face of the Sphinx and from left to right : Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell and T.E. Lawrence Image by GM Georgoulas,  via Wikimedia Commons 

First Lines for Women’s History Month

Let’s celebrate Women’s History Month with first lines from books by or about women of history. First Lines is a series of blog articles posted once a month.

The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more?

The cover of Isadora is a woman who appears to be immersed in water up to her nose but looks calm.

None of it turned out as he had imagined. He blamed this on his own distraction, which kept him from looking too closely at the details when his agent found the place.

Isadora by Amelia Grey, a 2017 NPR Great Read

Cover for the book The WOMAN they could not Silence shows a grainy & yellowed photo of an eighteenth century woman standing in front of a large institution on the top 1/4th of the book the rest of the cover is black with white and yellow text spelling out the title and the author.

It was the last day, but she didn’t know it.

In truth, we never do.

Not until it is too late.

She woke in a handsome maple bed, body covered by a snow-white counterpane.

The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

This cover shows a photograph of four military women in bomber jackets and slacks carrying small backpacks and striding toward the camera.

In 1943, Mass Transportation magazine published an article entitled “Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees.” It provided “insights” into the psyche of the working woman of the day…

From the Introduction to:The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: The Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II by Major General Mari K. Eder U.S. Army, Retired

The Lawbreaking Ladies cover is a black background with swirling lines in a goldish tone and in each corner illustrations of formidable looking ladies.

Sayyida al-Hurra was so revered that no one knows her real name. The name by which she is referred to is actually more of a title: al-Hurra means “free woman” and was often given to a woman in power, which she was.

Lawbreaking Ladies: 50 Tales of Daring, Defiant, and Dangerous Women from History by Erika Owen


There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More?

Did you enjoy this list? Check out previous First Lines posts. Please take a moment to share in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it? Or recommend your favorite book about women from history.