The Victorian Queens Of Ancient Egypt


20190203Samira Ahmed explores the profound connection between ancient Egypt and the Victorian heyday of Britain’s industrial north – in a legacy of museums and northern pride.

Being taken to see the mummies has become a right of passage, captivating generations of children since the late 19th century. Ancient Egypt is now embedded in early years education. At more than a hundred museums across the UK, that lost culture helps shape the British imagination. Where did that affinity come from?

To find out, Samira follows in the footsteps of three extraordinary women: Amelia Oldroyd, Annie Barlow and Marianne Brocklehurst. Each came from a northern, mill-owning family, and each felt compelled not only to visit Egypt and to collect antiquities, but to share their treasures with those at home. Each established local museums that survive today, inspiring new generations.

Today, many such museums face an uncertain future. By returning to these women’s stories, can lessons be learned from the past?


Katina Bill, Kirklees Museums and Galleries

Matthew Watson and Rizwana Khalique, Bolton Library and Museum Services

Danielle Wootton

Emma Anderson and Kathryn Warburton, Macclesfield Museums

Rebecca Holt, MPhil student at Oxford University

Heba abd al-Gawad, Egyptian Egyptologist

Alice Stevenson, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Dr Chris Naunton

Producers: Simon and Thomas Guerrier

A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4

Samira Ahmed on the women who brought ancient Egypt to Britain\u2019s industrial north.

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