Bringing Egypt Home: Children's Encounters With Ancient Egypt in the Long Nineteenth Century
Contribution to Book
Pasts At Play : Childhood Encounters with History in British Culture 1750 - 1914
Link to Published Version
Rachel Bryant Davies, Barbara Gribling
Manchester University Press
Zimmerman, Virginia, "Bringing Egypt Home: Children's Encounters With Ancient Egypt in the Long Nineteenth Century" (2020). Faculty Contributions to Books. 215.
Ancient Egypt was much in the public eye throughout the nineteenth century. It was often presented as alien and other; however, this chapter explores exhibitions and texts that brought ancient Egypt into the familiar spaces of Victorian London and even the middle-class home. In guidebooks, fictional and non-fictional accounts of archaeological adventure, and picture books, Egyptian antiquity was packaged for children in domestic wrappings. Guides to the British Museum invite children to connect familiar biblical passages to artefacts on display, particularly quotidian items like shoes. In the fantastical Sydenham Sinbad (1857), Edmund Evans conflates Queen Victoria and Ptolemy, while inviting children to imagine themselves on a journey to ancient Egypt. Winter Evenings, or Tales of Travelers (1818) by Maria Hack and Fruits of Enterprize Exhibited in the Adventures of Belzoni in Egypt and Nubia (1824) by Sarah Atkins also bring Egypt into the home and interweave accounts of archaeological adventure with the domestic business of gardening and attention to familiar subjects such as school mottos. Mother Goose in Hieroglyphics (1849) wholly domesticates the ancient Egyptian writing system, and E. Nesbit’s time-travelling Story of the Amulet (1906) turns a quest for an ancient Egyptian artefact into a tale of family reunification.