Summaries of Events
The following are brief summaries of some of the events run by Macclesfield Lit & Phil during the 2019 to 2020 season. Updates for the 2023 to 2024 season will be published here as available.
Emma Anderson: Radical 19th Century Women and Egypt
Emma Anderson, Interim Director of Macclesfield Museums, who has held a number of museum curatorships in the North West, introduced us to five remarkable women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were pioneers in the archaeological exploration of Egypt and who created superb collections of artefacts which now find a place in many of the region's museums. They were remarkable also for transcending the conventional boundaries of female action. Two of them formed intense female friendships and lived together for life with their friend, but Emma was reluctant to impose modern concepts of sexuality upon them. She gave a lively account of the Egyptian journeys especially of Amelia Edwards and Marianne Brocklehurst (with Mary Booth), who wrote their own detailed accounts. The talk was illustrated to a large extent with Marianne Brocklehurst's sketches and watercolours, and those who attended were privileged after the talk to be shown her fascinating diary, from which the illustrations were drawn.
Amelia Edwards, a successful popular novelist, was the only one of the five who herself made the money on which she travelled. She is notable in particular for her initiative in the creation of the Egypt Exploration Fund, on which she spent nine years of her life, after noting the damage caused by souvenir hunters. She left money for a chair in Egyptology at University College London, the only university college which granted degrees to women at the time.
Marianne Brocklehurst, of the Macclesfield silk manufacturing family, was very anxious to acquire Egyptian objects, and smuggled the mummy case out of Egypt which is now part of the very fine collection that she offered to the borough of Macclesfield, and for which the West Park Museum was built, opened in 1898 in the year of her death, apparently by suicide.
Anne Goodison travelled with her husband and Greville Chester. She taught herself hieroglyphics and made a collection that, after her early death, her husband sold for £400 to Bootle Museum—it is now in Southport.
Annie Barlow, daughter of a Bolton cotton weaving owner, made a single visit to Egypt, but created a remarkable collection of textiles for the Chadwick Museum in Bolton.
Maggie Benson, daughter of Edward White Benson, archbishop of Canterbury, educated at Oxford, without of course being able to graduate, was the first woman to lead an excavation, of the Temple of Mut, 1895–6.