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Wednesday, March 6, 2013


This book itself came to me via a long journey. Bought in Egypt itself, it went to Melbourne, came to Colombo and was gifted to a friend of mine who with no interest in travel literature passed it on to me. 
Written in 1890 when female travellers were few and far between, it gives one an insight into how travelling was done when one had time and plenty of money to do it properly. Comfortable lodgings, plenty of domestic help, slave labour to steer you through the Nile and all home comforts.

With companionable friends, Amelia starts her journey from Cairo, reaching Philae and then Abu Simbel. The sojourn at Abu Simbel was fortuitous as one of their party discovered a hidden sanctuary (which was named for her for many years afterwards).

After this trip undertaken in1873 1874 Amelia's publication of her travel memoirs was an immediate hit. What she wrote unusually for the time was the detrimental effect that tourism and especially the greed of Westerners for the artifacts of Egypt would have on the tourist industry as a whole and the population in general. What was apparent throughout was that just the appearance of the boat itself would make the local population frantic for sales of whatever they had and baksheesh was a way of life, almost as natural as breathing as any Westerner was looked on as a way of getting some additional money easily. 

The journey was the inspiration for Amelia Edwards to become an Egyptologist, found a body to look after Egyptian interests and contributed to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica on this subject.

The book was a slow read for me, but one of interest and one which I felt had to be read slowly to assimilate details of travels which were written in a both a different and older style. 

Leaving tonight for Melbourne! am hoping the hot weather is now past......


vicki (skiourophile) said...

I nearly did my M.A. on this book (or rather Amelia Edwards), so I'm so happy someone is appreciating it. She was quite a woman, and a great benefactor to Egyptology. Enjoy yourself in Melbourne (one of my favourite cities).

bermudaonion said...

I can see where the language of the time would make this a slow read but it sounds fascinating to me!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I'd love to read this - I'm fascinated with Egypt at this time.

jenclair said...

Nonfiction always slows me down, but is usually worth the effort. I'm fascinated by what travelers were willing to brave in earlier times, especially women.

Elizabeth said...

Love Louise Penny...Enjoy all your books.

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