Katharine Woolley

Katherine Woolley

People have been divided always between her with a fierce and vengeful hatred, and being entranced by her.
– Agatha Christie on Katherine Woolley

She had the power of entrancing those associated with her when she was in the mood or on the contrary of creating a charged poisonous atmosphere; to live with her was to walk on a tightrope.”
- M.E.L. Mallowan’s Memoirs

Katharine Menke was born in England in June of 1888 to German parents. She attended Somerville College, Oxford but did not complete her education. Katharine married Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Keeling on March 3, 1919. He died several months later, on September 20, 1919. She began working as a field assistant at the Ur excavations in 1924. She and Woolley married in 1927. Commonly described by those who knew her as a very demanding woman, Gertrude Bell called her “dangerous,” she took up an authoritative place near Woolley, eventually leading the excavation in its final year. She died November 8, 1945 at age 58.