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The Victorian Queens of Ancient Egypt

Samira Ahmed investigates the Victorian women who brought the treasures of Ancient Egypt to northern England, creating museums that endure to this day.

Samira 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?

Contributors:
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

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44 minutes

Broadcast

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