16 September 2021

From Avon to Nile: The adventurous life of Amelia Edwards

As a best-selling novelist, and a bold and witty travel writer, Amelia Edwards was a household name.

At age 50, inspired by a Nile journey from Cairo to Upper Egypt, she embarked on a new career to promote archaeology and conservation. She co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund and packed lecture halls on both sides of the Atlantic. She brought to vivid life the bygone world of Ancient Egypt; often using her talks to subtly promote women’s rights.

Edwards lived for 27 years in Westbury-on-Trym, with her friend Ellen Braysher. A committed feminist, she was vice-president of the Bristol and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage. At some time in the 1860s, she secretly married her lover Ellen Byrne in Horfield church, with the blessing – literally – of Ellen’s clergyman husband, who conducted the marriage ceremony.

Edwards’ grave at St Mary’s, Henbury, is marked by a stone Ankh, the Ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life. The grave has become a site of pilgrimage for Egyptologists and supporters of LGBT rights alike. In this talk, Edwards’ biographer, Dr Margaret Jones, assesses the life and legacy of an often overlooked adoptive Bristolian.

‘England has lost one of her foremost daughters’ – Obituary, Preston Herald, 23 April 1892

Speaker: Dr Margaret Jones lived and taught in Egypt for ten years, then moved to Indiana, to work for a PhD in American Studies. She taught for two years at the Department of English, Central Washington University. Her last post before retirement was as a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England, Bristol, 1992-97. She is the author of Heretics and Hellraisers: Women Contributors to The Masses, 1911-1917 (University of Texas Press); and Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen: Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians (Pen & Sword Publishers).

Margaret’s new book about Amelia Edwards, Lady of the Nile, has recently been accepted for publication by Bloomsbury.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk in partnership with M Shed seminar series.

How to take part

This free, online talk will be held over Zoom. Please book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 2pm on Thursday 16 September.

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining meetings. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly. It’s up to you whether you turn on your video but all guests will be muted once the talk begins. You are welcome to ask questions in the chat box throughout the talk.