The Edwards Museum of Egyptian Archaeology?
By Debbie J Challis, on 15 March 2011
Last week the Petrie Museum had a packed house to honour Amelia Edwards with a mesmerizing performance by Kim Hicks. The actress captivated the audience with poise and a bit of humor through her monologues and readings of Edwards’ travel tales. It took place to mark International Women’s Day.
It also marked the re-display of the cast of a bust of Amelia Edwards in the entrance of the Petrie Museum, in front of an image of her study kindly supplied by Somerville College Oxford. Amelia Edwards was a prolific novelist whose ‘sensation’ novels and ghost stories make Wilkie Collins (Woman in White or The Moonstone) look like a trembling violet.
She left her bequest of antiquities, books and a substantial amount of money to University College London to found the Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology because in 1892 UCL was the only university in England to award degrees to women. Flinders Petrie, whose work she championed, was the first Edwards Professor and the present one is our curator, Stephen Quirke. It begs the question, should we be the ‘Edwards Museum of Egyptian Archaeology’?
The redisplay was enabled by an anonymous donation from a Friend of the Petrie Museum. What a fabulous way to celebrate the 100th International Women’s Day – and a special thanks to the Friends of the Petrie Museum for sponsoring the event!
Dannielle Payton and Debbie Challis