googlead166c37c697d4d3.html Glenn Ashton Author Blog: Budge's Snippet: Amelia Edwards - Fighting vandalism from a houseboat in Egypt


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Budge's Snippet: Amelia Edwards - Fighting vandalism from a houseboat in Egypt

Amelia Edwards
In 1873 a young English woman named Amelia Edwards (1831 – 1892) made a trip up the Nile River, following in the footsteps of many others who had journeyed to this land of fabulous history to see for themselves the treasures of the past. 
Who was this young woman? 
In England she ended up known as the godmother of Egyptology because of her dedication to the Egypt Exploration Society she founded, and her funding of the Edwards Chair in Egyptian Archaeology at University College London. In 1883 the Fund sent out a young man who would gain fame as an Egyptologist – Flinders Petrie
She was impressed by the young man and she fixed things so that he would become the first occupant of the Edwards Chair by providing in her will that the appointment had to go to someone younger than forty, and that no-one from the British Museum could occupy the chair.
A talented woman gifted in music, art, wrting and public speaking, she tried her hand at four different careers in her lifetime.
She loved travelling, and wrote two of the most successful travel books of all time; she wrote her first story at the tender age of four, and by twelve was an accomplished writer and illustrator. 
She said it took her about two years to research and write her novels, and her last one, published in 1880, was so popular that it had fifteen editions.

The Houseboat on the Nile
Her trip up the Nile with friends was in a manned houseboat, and they reached Abu Simbel where they stayed for six weeks. When she returned to England she wrote A Thousand Miles up the Nile, which she illustrated with her own drawings, and it became a bestseller. She undertook a 120 stop
lecture tour of the USA in 1889, to raise funds.
Edwards dedicated herself to preserving the ancient monuments of Egypt. She was buried in St. Mary's Church in Henbury, Bristol, and her grave is marked by an obelisk with a stone ankh at its foot.
From Budge:

We read on the Rock the names of many travellers who, in their day, were famous for their Egyptian travels, and among them the name of Miss Amelia B. Edwards, who in England always protested loudly against such "vandalism."
In the winter of 1873-4 she made a trip up the Nile with a few friends under very pleasant circumstances.  The country and climate and monuments exercised so strong an influence over her that when she returned to England she abandoned her craft of novel-writing, and devoted herself whole-heartedly to the advancement of Egyptology.
I saw her often in the Museum, when she came to Birch for help in the historical parts of the narrative of her journey which she was writing.
In 1877 she published this narrative under the title of "A Thousand Miles up the Nile," and her book was deservedly an immediate and great success. Her energy, enthusiasm, and zeal brought about the foundation of the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882, and for some years it owed its success entirely to her tact and work and extraordinary power of organization.
Profiting by her acquaintance with Birch, Maspero and Naville, which she cultivated assiduously, she acquired a good knowledge of Egyptian history and archaeology. She was large-hearted, kind, and sympathetic, a delightful companion, and a good friend. Birch thoroughly enjoyed her visits, and would sit for an hour at a time listening to her fine descriptions of Nile scenery, and sunrises and sunsets, and the subtle differences of appearance which the monuments exhibit at different times of the day.
I never met anyone who had so thoroughly absorbed the mystic and magical influences of Egypt past and present, and who could clothe the impressions which they make upon the mind in such well-fitting and expressive words. 

Bartlett sketch of Abu Simbel - 1880's
Flinders Petrie
Abu Simbel by David Roberts

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