Amelia Edwards was an Englishwoman who lived in the second half of the nineteenth century. Her book A thousand miles up the Nile, told the story of her time spent in Egypt.
Amelia Edwards
Amelia Edwards

Amelia Edwards 1831 - 1892

Amelia Edwards was an Englishwoman who lived in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1873, she left England for an extended walking holiday in France. Unfortunately, once she arrived in France, steady rainfall made it impossible for her to continue her holiday as she had planned.

Edwards abandoned her plans and set out for Egypt. She spent the winter months exploring the land of Egypt, which was still relatively unknown to westerners. Upon her return to England, she wrote a book titled, 'A thousand miles up the Nile' which told the story of her time spent in Egypt. Published in 1877, the book was very popular and successful, providing westerners with a vivid account of the people, places and monuments of Egypt.

While travelling around Egypt, Edwards was horrified by the neglect and damage she saw at ancient Egyptian monuments and archaeological sites.

In 1882, she rallied a group of men to establish the Egypt Exploration Fund to promote the scientific exploration of Egypt and its monuments. This body exists to this day as the Egypt Exploration Society. It is the principal channel directing British funds into the ongoing research and excavation in Egypt.

In 1892, Edwards died at the age of 61. In her will, she left her large collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, as well as her library of books, photographs and other documents concerning ancient Egypt, to University College, London. In her own words, the collection of antiquities was for, "...the teaching of Egyptology with a view to the wide extension of the knowledge of the history, antiquities, literature, philology and art of Ancient Egypt."

Additionally, she left funds to create Britain's first professorship in Egyptian archaeology and philology at University College, London. Edwards made her generous gifts to UCL because it was the only university in Britain offering degrees for women at that time. She believed passionately that women should have the same access as men to university training.