Amelia Edwards’ travels in Egypt

Amelia Edwards

Amelia Edwards

On June 7, 1831, English novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards was born. Her account of her travels in Egypt, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (1877), was an immediate success. During the last two decades of her life, she became concerned by threats to Egyptian monuments and antiquities, raised funds for archaeological excavations and increased public awareness by lecturing at home and abroad.

Amelia Edwards was born in London. She was educated by her mother and it has been delivered that she showed talents in writing already at young age. Edwards published her first poem at age seven, and her first story at age 12. She continued to publish a variety of poetry, stories and articles in various magazines including the Chamber’s Journal, Household Words, and All the Year Round. Amelia Edwards also wrote for the Saturday Review and the Morning Post. As a novelist, Edwards’ first full length novel was published in 1855 and titled My Brother’s Wife. The book established her reputation as a novelist. Edwards spent considerable time and effort on her books’ settings and backgrounds, estimating that it took her about two years to complete the researching and writing of each. This painstaking work paid off when her last novel, Lord Brackenbury, emerged as a runaway success that went to 15 editions. The author wrote several ghost stories, including the often anthologised The Phantom Coach published in 1864.

During the winter of 1873-1874, Amelia Edwards toured Egypt with some friends. She discovered a fascination with the land and its cultures, both ancient and modern. She traveled from Cairo southwards in a hired dahabiyeh, a manned houseboat. She produced a vivid description of her Nile voyage, titled A Thousand Miles up the Nile which was published in 1877. Enhanced with her own hand-drawn illustrations, the travelogue became an immediate best-seller. Amelia Edwards was aware of the increasing threats directed towards the ancient monuments by tourism and modern development. She wanted to raise public awareness and scientific endavour, becoming a public advocate for the research and preservation of the ancient monuments. Edwards co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund – now the Egypt Exploration Society – with Reginald Stuart Poole, the curator of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. She served as joint Honorary Secretary of the Fund and served until her death. In order to be able to devote most of her time to Egyptology, Edwards mostly abandoned her literary work. She managed to contribute to the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, to the American supplement of that work, and to the Standard Dictionary. During 1889 and 1890, Amelia Edwards embarked on an ambitious lecture tour of the United States. Her lectures were later published as Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers.

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