Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Art & History Feature - Amelia Edwards

Amelia Edwards 1890 in America (public domain)

This fascinating woman was born the same day as me and is truly inspirational to me.

Amelia Edwards was an English novelist, journalist, world traveler and Egyptologist.

Born on June 7th, 1831, to an Irish mother and a British solider father, she wrote her first poem at the tender age of 7, first story at 12. Over the years, she wrote many poems, stories and five full-length novels, the most famous been Barbara's History (1864).

Philæ from the South (1890) (from A Thousand Miles up the Nile) (Travelers in the Middle East Archive)

Using the proceeds from her writing, Amelia left London to travel. She traveled to Egypt int he winter of 1873 and became fascinated with the land, its culture and history. She spent some time there, and, on her return to England, wrote a beautiful description of her travels on the river Nile. The travel account was later published as A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877). The travel memoir included Amelia's own drawings.

Great Rock-Cut Temple, Abou Simbel, Nubia (1890) (from A Thousand Miles up the Nile) (Travelers in the Middle East Archive)

 Amelia became a great advocate of research and preservation of ancient cultural monuments. "...Every day, more inscriptions are mutilated–more paintings and sculptures are defaced. ... When science leads the way, is it wonderful that ignorance should follow?" (A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, 1891 edition, pp. 353.) She was the co-founder of the Egypt Exploration Fund (first established in 1882), which survives to this day as the Egypt Exploration Society. The other co-founder was Reginald Stuart Pole. She also toured the United States and gave many lectures on the topic so close to her heart.

Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards by Percival Ball, marble, 1873 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
Amelia died in April of 1892 of influenza and was buried in St. Marie's Church in Bristol. She never married. Her entire collection of Egyptian antiquities was bequeathed to University College London, as well as money to found an Edwards Chair of Egyptology.

Amelia Edward's obelisk tombstone


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