EGYPTOMANIA: A Selected Bibliography

October 30th, 2016

Ronald H. Fritze discusses Egyptomania: A History of Fascination, Obsession and Fantasy, Wednesday, November 16 at the Co-op. Details here

The subject of ancient Egypt is blessed with a huge number of excellent books (along with some mediocrities and pseudo-historical fantasies).  This list consisted of some of the books that I found the most informative and enjoyable. It begins with several overviews than a couple of classics followed by several of the better specialized studies. -Ronald H. Fritze 

Introductory Works

Barbara Mertz, Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt (second revised and updated edition, 2009).  Good introductory history by a graduate of the University of Chicago. She is better known by her pen name Elizabeth Peters, the author of the Amelia Peabody archaeological mysteries. For a more detailed account see, Toby Wilkinson, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt (2011).

Charlotte Booth, The Curse of the Mummy and other Mysteries of Ancient Egypt (2009). The ten chapters of this book each discuss one of ancient Egypt’s mysteries or mysterious people from pyramids and the sphinx to Hatshepsut to Cleopatra.  

Brian M. Fagan, The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robber, Tourists, and Archaeologists in Egypt (1975, many reprints).  Tells the story of the beginnings of European tourism in Egypt and the nineteenth-century looting of its antiquities.

Classic Works

Amelia B. Edwards, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (1891, rpt. 1983).  Classic travel account by a late Victorian novelist and benefactor of early British Egyptology.  

Bram Stoker, The Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903 and 1912).  One of the best examples of Egyptomaniac fiction by the author of Dracula.  That said, H. Rider Haggard’s She (1886) and Cleopatra (1889) are also entertaining works of Egyptomaniac fiction along with Guy Boothby’s Pharos the Egyptian (1899) and Sax Rohmer’s Brood of the Witch Queen (1918).

Special Topics

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions (1990).  Looks at the facts and fantasies Cleopatra that have accumulated through the centuries about Cleopatra, one of the most famous women in history and a Queen of Egypt. For a very insightful standard biography there is Stacy Schiff’s Pulitzer Prize winning Cleopatra: A Life (2010).

Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (2000).  A fine culture history of the most controversial of the pharaohs and the subject of much wild speculation.  

Christopher Frayling, The Face of Tutankhamun (1992).  Entertaining cultural history of the Tutankhamun, the discovery of his tomb, and Tutmania.  Based on a BBC television series.  

Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West (2001).  An excellent overview of the history of the relationship between ancient Egypt and the Occult in Western Culture.  

Roger Luckhurst, The Mummy’s Curse: A True History of a Dark Fantasy (2012). While there are a number of books about the Mummy’s Curse and mummymania, Luckhurst’s is the best researched, lucid, and entertaining.  

Paul Jordan, Riddles of the Sphinx (1998).  A comprehensive history of the Great Sphinx and its legends and myths.  

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