Katherine Woolley

Katherine Woolley

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Updated On September 27, 2022
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Katherine Woolley was a British military nurse and archaeologist. Katherine Woolley has been the inspiration for the character of Louisne Leidner in Agatha Christie’s novel Murder in Mesopotamia as she worked principally at the Mesopotamian site of Ur.

Early life

Katherine Woolley, also known as Lady Woolley was born in June 1888, in Birmingham, England. She also goes by the name nee Menke. She is from a German family. Her father’s name was Carl Menke. He was a consul for Germany. There is no information about her mother’s name and her profession. Unfortunately, there are no details about her nationality, religion, ethnicity in public domains. According to astrology, she has Gemini as her zodiac sign.

Looking retrospectively to her academic career, she studied Modern History at Somerville College in Oxford University. But sadly, she was not able to continue her education there due to health issues.


Katherine died at the age of 57 years, on 8 November 1945 in Dorchester, where she lived for several years. The reason for her death was multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease. Despite her ill condition, she was active until two days before her death.

Professional life

Katherine is known for dedicating her life as a nurse and an archaeologist. She served as a nurse by being associated with the Red Cross, during World war I. She officially joined the Red Cross in 1915 and immediately went to Alexandria, Egypt to work in a hospital. Later she went to Poland and worked in a concentration camp. She again went to Cairo, Egypt after marrying Colonel Keeling. Though her husband lived shortly after their emigration, she decided to live there herself.

Talking about her journey as an archaeologist, it happened when she went to work as a nurse in Baghdad. She was then residing with Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Tainsch and his wife. Tainsch showed him the undergoing excavation at Ur, where she met famous British Archaeologist Leonard Woolley, who offered her the position of illustrator for the excavation. She later became the primary assistant on site. She not only drew the drawing of the site which got published in newspapers but also helped in reconstructing lots of objects. Similarly, she has a vital role in bringing forth the understanding of the royal life of Ur. Despite her popularity and fame, she has not received any brand endorsement deals as of now. However, it is possible that in near future, she might start to endorse brands.

Moreover, she published a romantic novel “Adventure Calls”, set in the contemporary Middle East. The character of the protagonist of the book is depicted more or less as her own.

Katherine Woolley

Caption: Katherine Woolley at the site of excavation in Ur. (Source: Trowelblazers)


The works of Katherine were very commendable and were appraised by everyone. Her workers used to regard her as a taskmaster. Moreover, she was characterized in the novel Murder in Mesopotamia by famous writer Agatha Christie. She was the inspiration for the murder victim, Louise Leidner, in the novel. To note down, Agatha Christie and Katherine had a good friendship.

Personal life

Katherine married twice in her lifetime. Her first husband was Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Keeling. They married on 3 March 1919.  He was the Director-General of the survey of Egypt and the president of the Cotton Research Board. Unfortunately, he committed suicide by gunshot in 1919.

She later married her husband Leonard Woolley on 11 April 1927. They first met at an excavation site in Ur after her first husband’s death. They remain together until her death.

Body measurement and Social media

There are no details on body features about this 20th-century archaeologist in any of her obituary.

She does not have any kind of social media too, since there was no such advancement in science then as of today.

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