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Amelia B. Edwards

English Novelist and EgyptologistFor scholarship and variety of accomplishments, Amelia Edwards has had few equals, especially in her own time. Edwards enjoyed three separate careers. She was at various times a journalist, a novelist, and an Egyptologist. She was also an active supporter of Woman’s Suffrage and as vice-president of the Society for Promoting Women’s Suffrage. Amelia Edwards was born in London in 1831, the daughter of an army officer who eventually became a banker and a very well educated Irish mother. Amelia was schooled at home for most of her childhood under her mother’s tutelage with the help of special tutors when necessary. Amelia showed was recognized as a promising writer at a very young age. Her first published work was a poem, entitled “The Knights of Old”, published in a weekly journal when she was only seven years old. For several years she continued to write, but eventually turned to music and composed several pleasant pieces. Later, she returned to writing and decided to make it her profession. Among her many novels were: “The Ladder of Life”, “Half a Million of Money”, and “Lord Breckenburg”.

Though she was a popular novelist, it is her traveler’s tales that are reprinted today. When she was 30 years old Amelia’s parent’s died, leaving her freeing her to pursue her love of travel. With the money she made from her writings, she was able to support herself and live independently, going wherever she wished. Amelia embarked on a series of daring expeditions, writing of her adventures. Her accounts are memorable for her knowledge of her surroundings, her interest and openness towards the people and customs of other countries. Her books were also loved for the humor and animated accounts of her experiences.

In 1870, Amelia and a woman companion traveled to Egypt. This trip was to change the course of her life. From this time on, she came to be known chiefly as an Egyptologist and wrote such works as “A Thousand Miles up the Nile”, “Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers”. She also translated Maspero’s “Egyptian Archeology”, and wrote for the Encyclopedia Britannica on Egyptology.

In 1889, Amelia lectured in the United States. From those who heard her, she is best described as an ‘antiquarian’ – one possessing indomitable courage and will, unswerving patience and energy, and an impregnable constitution, besides the love of discovering unrevealed history. Amelia Edwards died on April 15, 1892 from a severe case of influenza. She left behind an expansive library of Egyptology and a collection of Egyptian relics to University College, London.


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