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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Bertram Thomas was born in Easton-in-Gordano, near Bristol, 13 June 1892. He was educated privately and was a fellow commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge, PhD. He worked in the Civil Service, 1908-14. He served with the North Somerset Yeomanry in Belgium, 1914-15, and the Somerset Light Infantry in Mesopotamia (Iraq), 1916-18. He was an Assistant Political Officer in Mesopotamia, 1918-22, and Assistant British Representative in Trans-Jordan (Jordan), 1922-4. He was appointed as Finance Minister and Wazir to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman (Oman), 1925-32. During this time he made a number of expeditions into the desert, becoming the first European to cross the Rub' Al Khali (Empty Quarter), 1930-1. He married Bessie Hoile, 1933. He was Information Officer in Bahrain, 1942-3; Director of the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, Palestine, 1943-6, and Lebanon, 1947-8; and an adviser to Shell Group, 1948-9. He was awarded the OBE, 1920, and CMG, 1949. He died in Cairo, 27 December 1950.

The collection mainly comprises manuscripts, articles, book reviews, lectures, notes, correspondence and maps dating from 1919-50.

The Library also holds a collection of Thomas's photographs of Mesopotamia and Arabia, comprising 1 box (uncatalogued), and a video copy of a film made by Thomas in Arabia, 1928-9 (also available in DVD format).

The Faculty also has a portrait of Thomas by Walter Westley Russell.