Hardinge Simpole

Wallis Budge: Magic and Mummies in London and Cairo
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By Ismail, Matthew. With a Retrospect by Julian Reade.
ISBN 1843822180
Paperback  542 pages
Published 15 July, 2011
UK Price £35.00   
US Price $55.00   

Sir E.A. Wallis Budge (1857-1934) is today mostly known as the author of such books as The Egyptian Book of the Dead (1895), The Gods of Egypt (1904), and An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (1920). Born an impoverished and illegitimate child in rural Cornwall, Budge bit and clawed his way through the barriers of Victorian and Edwardian class prejudice to a knighthood in 1920. As Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in the British Museum from 1894 to 1924, Budge's career was entwined with the great issues of his day: the rise of the European Empires in the Middle East and the decline of the Ottoman Empire; the French and British struggle to control Egypt and its antiquities; the conflicts between Ottoman and European antiquarian interests in the Ottoman province of Iraq; and the British invasion and colonization of the Sudan. Budge was both a proponent of a liberalized Christianity and a believer in the reality of the occult world, and his books were viewed by many as a primary source for alternative religious inspiration. More than an account of the professional conflicts and the controversial smuggling of antiquities for which Budge is now remembered in academic circles, this is an intriguing story of antiquities and empire - and of how one man's life was saturated with both.

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