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Women Travelers in Egypt

Women Travelers in Egypt: From the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Deborah Manley
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Women Travelers in Egypt
    Book Description:

    Until late in the nineteenth century, few guidebooks acknowledged the presence of women as travelers—although women had been traveling around the world for centuries. Women’s accounts of their journeys, distinct from those of male travelers, began to appear more frequently in the early nineteenth century, and Egypt was a popular destination. Women had more time to watch and describe; they were more dependent on the Egyptian staff; they spent time both in the harems of Cairo and with the women they met along the Nile. Some of them, like Sarah Belzoni, Sophia Poole, and Ellen Chennells, spoke Arabic. Others wrote engagingly of their experiences as observers of an exotic culture, with special access to some places no man could ever go. From Eliza Fay’s description of arriving in Egypt in 1779 to Rosemary Mahoney’s daring trip down the Nile in a rowboat in 2006, this lively collection of writing by over forty women travelers includes Lady Evelyn Cobbold, Isabella Bird, Winifred Blackman, Norma Lorimer, Harriet Martineau, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Edwards, and Lucie Duff Gordon.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-360-4
    Subjects: Middle East Studies, History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Lady Tobin, traveling through Egypt with her husband in 1853, wrote about keeping a journal—the record upon which her account of her journey would depend:

    I quite agree with Miss Martineau that one of the greatest nuisances in travelling is keeping a journal. One is far more disposed to lie down and rest after a fatiguing ride of eight or nine hours on a camel, beneath a burning sun; than— having made a hasty toilette—to take out one’s writing materials. I persevered, however, and rejoice that I did so.

    We can rejoice also for it was upon such...

  4. 1 Alexandria, the Delta, and Suez
    (pp. 5-28)

    At Cairo, where I live, which is near the middle [of Egypt] there are sometimes four or five showers in the year, sometimes more, but rarely; in the upper provinces only one or two; nothing would grow therefore if the vegetation depended on rain, and though there are heavy dews, these would be quite insufficient; the sun is so powerful that the whole land would be one vast sandy desert, dry and barren, were it not for the wonderful river Nile.

    At a certain season every year this river begins to rise gradually; it is supplied from the mountains where...

  5. 2 Cairo
    (pp. 29-64)

    No one ever talks about the beauty of Cairo, ever gives you the least idea of this surpassing city. I thought it was a place to buy stores at and pass through on one’s way to India, instead of its being the rose of cities, the garden of the desert, the pearl of Moorish architecture, the fairest, really the fairest, place of earth below. It reminds me always of Sirius; I can’t tell why except that Sirius has the silveriest light in heaven above, and Cairo has the same radiant look on earth below; and I shall never look at...

  6. 3 The Environs of Cairo
    (pp. 65-76)

    The ultimate object of our excursion was the tombs of the Mameluke Sultans. These are situated, as it would appear, in the very heart of the Desert; and it struck me as one of the most singular features of Grand Cairo that, from the very centre of population, from a scene of luxuriant cultivation, we in a moment, without the slightest preparation, passed on to a plain and hills of sand. Not a tree, nor a habitation breaks the uniformity of the surface; nothing is visible but a district of graves, extending as far as the eye can reach; and,...

  7. 4 Up the Nile from Cairo
    (pp. 77-98)

    In the meanwhile, our first business was to look at dahabeeyahs; and the looking at dahabeeyahs compelled us constantly to turn our steps and our thoughts in the direction of Boulak—a desolate place by the river, where some two or three hundred Nile-boats lay moored for hire. Now, most persons know something of the misery of house-hunting; but only those who have experienced them know how much keener are the miseries of dahabeeyah-hunting. It is more bewildering and more fatiguing, and is beset by its own special and peculiar difficulties.

    The boats, in the first place, are all built...

  8. 5 Nubia and Beyond and Turning North
    (pp. 99-148)

    As we approach the scenery of the cataracts, very fine palm-trees again greet the eye, the hills begin to assume a darker hue, and the sandstone gives place to the granite rock. A few Roman ruins crown the top of the hills on the eastern bank as we proceed. On the western, the sand of the desert lies thickly strewn upon the rocks. Here was the island of Kubanieh, and the home of our Reis. He landed, and was surrounded by a very respectable body of black relatives, for they are Nubians; and before parting he left a basket full...

  9. 6 Northward down the Nile
    (pp. 149-160)

    We were under weigh during the night, and soon after breakfast reached Komombo—where we remained twenty-four hours, to give the Reis an opportunity of seeing his wife and children, who resided there. We walked to the famous Temple over a strip of parched ground, between the cracks of which lupins were sprung up—and along the edge of a field which some Arabs were preparing for cultivation. Near this field was a fine cotton plantation, where several Nubian slaves—the happiest of Egypt’s population, for they are generally well treated and have nothing to lose—were busily employed.


  10. 7 Luxor and the West Bank—the Thebes of Old
    (pp. 161-190)

    We at last reached Luxor. Still there was no rest for the soles of our feet. There was no boat to take the great colossal head on board; and, notwith standing this poor accommodation, we were obliged to set off for Gheneh. We had no sooner arrived there than we were obliged to return, as there was a large boat pressed for the use of the Bashaw, wherein some Franks had taken their passage as far as Aswan, which boat was promised for Mr B. for the head. We tied our little boat to the large one. We had come...

  11. 8 Egypt Beyond the Nile—the Desert
    (pp. 191-204)

    Oh, believe me, dear mother, the desert is very tedious! If you can call to mind how the country looked between Berlin and Strelitz, before the road reached to the Baltic, you may form some notion of the desert. Sand, sand, and nothing but sand; or where water appeared amongst it—a green oasis. But suppose you were borne upon a camel, and then tell me thatennuiwould not accompany you the whole distance. A desert remains a desert. The majority of people who come hither are so delighted at finding themselves upon the top of a camel in...

  12. The Travelers: Brief Biographies
    (pp. 205-210)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-214)
  14. Index of Travelers
    (pp. 215-216)