Edwards, Amelia B. (1831–1892)

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Edwards, Amelia B. (1831–1892)

English author and Egyptologist. Born Amelia Ann Blandford Edwards in London, England, on June 7,1831; died of influenza in Weston-super-Mare, Somersetshire, England, on April 15, 1892; daughter of one of the duke of Wellington's officers; cousin of Matilda Barbara Betham-Edwards (1836–1919), a writer on French life; educated at home by her mother; studied music under Mrs. Mounsey Bartholomew; never married; no children.

At a very early age, Amelia Edwards displayed considerable literary and artistic talent. She became a contributor to various magazines and newspapers and wrote eight novels, the most successful of which were Debenham's Vow (1870) and Lord Brackenbury (1880). But her most important contribution would not be in the field of literature.

Edwards visited Egypt in the winter of 1873–74. Profoundly impressed by the new openings for archaeological research, she learned the hieroglyphic characters and accumulated a considerable collection of Egyptian antiquities. In 1877, she wrote and illustrated A Thousand Miles up the Nile, the most comprehensive book on the subject of Egyptian history and hieroglyphics at the time. But Edwards was horrified by the unskilled hands that were destroying Egyptian antiquities and was determined to bring the problem to the attention of the public. Ultimately, in 1882, she was largely instrumental in founding the Egypt Exploration Fund, of which she became joint honorary secretary with Reginald Stuart Poole. She now abandoned her other literary work, writing only on Egyptology.

During the winter of 1889–90, at the request of 25 college presidents and such men as James Russell Lowell, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and William Dean Howells, she came to America on a speaking tour. The substance of her lectures was published in volume form in 1891 as Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers. Shortly before her death the following year, Edwards received a civil list pension from the British government. She bequeathed her valuable collection of Egyptian antiquities to University College, London, together with a sum to found a chair of Egyptology.

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Edwards, Amelia B. (1831–1892)

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