Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Happy 184th Birthday Amelia Edwards, the Mother of Modern Egyptology

Happy 184th Birthday Amelia Edwards, the Mother of Modern Egyptology. (photo credit & for more info: @TheEES) pic.twitter.com/SnJsRIwrQe

Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (7 June 1831 – 15 April 1892), also known as Amelia B. Edwards, was an English novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist. Her most successful literary works included the ghost story "The Phantom Coach" (1864), the novels Barbara's History (1864) and Lord Brackenbury (1880), and the Egyptian travelogue A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877), which described her 1873–1874 voyage up the Nile River. In 1882, she co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund (now the Egypt Exploration Society) and became its joint Honorary Secretary. In 1889–1890, she toured the United States lecturing on Egyptian exploration.

At age 30, following the death of her parents, Amelia had little reason to stay in England. Nor was there anyone close to her who would criticize if she chose to travel. The proceeds of her writings were sufficient to enable her to live independently and go where she wished. Amelia embarked on a series of intrepid expeditions, of which she wrote. Her accounts are notable for her knowledge of her surroundings, her interest and openness towards the people and customs of other countries, and not least for the humour and enthusiasm which enliven many of her experiences.

 It was her third documented journey, however, that substantially changed the direction of Edwards' life. In 1870, she traveled to Egypt and sailed a dahabiyeh up the Nile to Abu Simbel. There, she spent six weeks excavating at the Temple of Rameses II. Her animated and engaging account of the trip was published as A Thousand Miles Up the Nile in 1877. Of setting off the first day, in their boat, the Philae, she writes:

"Happy are the Nile travellers who start thus with a fair breeze on a brilliant afternoon. The good boat cleaves her way swiftly and steadily. Water-side palaces and gardens glide by, and are left behind. The domes and minarets of Cairo drop quickly out of sight. The mosque of the citadel, and the ruined fort that looks down upon it from the mountain ridge above, diminish in the distance. The Pyramids stand up sharp and clear." (A Thousand Miles Up the Nile 1891 edition, p. 37.) 

Digital edition: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/nile/nile.html

Biography: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/edwards.html

Her home in London


Ms Edwards inspired Amelia Peabody, heroine of one of the best historical mystery series ever, which started with 'Crocodile on the Sandbank.' It is the first in the a series of novels centered about her unforgivable creation, Amelia Peabody and takes place in 1884-1885:  Like the real Amelia Edwards, the fictional Amelia receives a rather large inheritance after her father's death and decides to use it for travel. On her way through Rome to Egypt, she meets Evelyn Barton-Forbes, a young woman abandoned by her lover and left with no means of support. Amelia promptly takes Evelyn under her wing, insisting that the young lady accompany her to Egypt, where Amelia plans to indulge her passion for Egyptology. When Evelyn becomes the target of an aborted kidnapping and the focus of a series of suspicious accidents and mysterious visitations, Amelia becomes convinced of a plot to harm her young friend. Like any self-respecting sleuth, Amelia sets out to discover who is behind it all.

Amelia Peabody series: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Peabody_series 
Maps and Timelines: http://www.ameliapeabody.com/maps.htm
Elizabeth Peters, aka Barbara Mertz: Barbara Mertz (September 29, 1927 – August 8, 2013) was an American author who wrote under her own name as well as under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. In 1952 she received a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago. While she was best known for her mystery and suspense novels, in the 1960s she authored two books on ancient Egypt, both of which have remained in print ever since. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Mertz
Website: http://www.mpmbooks.com/

"In the end the clouds will blow away 
and the falcon will fly through the portal of the dawn." 

from The Falcon at the Portal (Barbara Mertz died of cancer in 2013). 

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