Marion Bailey is a noted British historian.
Her area of expertise is the Middle East, especially the land along the Tigris and Euphrates in what is now Iraq. The time frame of her activities recorded in these adventures range more than a dozen years, from 1925 to 1938. Starting just a few years after the end of the Great War, that region, indeed a whole lot of the world, was under British control or protection or mandate or domination. You pick the word you feel best qualified - in the case of Bailey it would be 'domination' and not said in a very kind way.
Her nationality is truly British and when we first meet her she is traveling from Baghdad to Istanbul on a British passport. We learn, though, that while she was from the U.K. originally, "she had married an Egyptian three years earlier, thereby forfeiting her British status in both International and British law. She hadn't taken Egyptian citizenship. And the statelessness that before the War had struck her as a bit of a joke now left her scarcely human. Immobile. She disliked it."
The main emphasis for her actions when we first meet her is her devotion to history and its preservation but she is also very much motivated by the British treatment of the people in the lands she visits. Both will play major roles in her life but the latter will lead to extreme changes for her.
Becoming an adversary of the British government will bring into the reach of Jeffrey Willcox, a man she knew and loathed, or so she recalls, back in her college days at Cambridge. Now he is Sir Jeffrey and very much a major player in the British Intelligence operations in the areas between Turkey and the Middle East. The relationship between these two will become ... confused.