Cover image for A passion for Egypt : Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun, and the "curse of the pharaohs"
A passion for Egypt : Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun, and the "curse of the pharaohs"
Hankey, Julie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : I.B. Tauris ; New York : In the United States ... distributed by St. Martin's Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 380 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
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PJ1064.W45 H36 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This compelling biography of Arthur Weigall, the British Egyptologist and Chief Inspector of Antiquities, chronicles his involvement with the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb under Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Weigall came into conflict with Carter and Carnarvon over newspaper reporting of the famous find. His remarks to the press during that time led to the infamous story of the ""Curse of the Pharaohs."" This biography brings to life the atmosphere, intrigue, and intense competition in Egypt during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Author Notes

Julie Hankey is the granddaughter of Arthur Weigall.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Arthur Weigall (1880-1934), the British Egyptologist and author, had a multifaceted career: accountant, archeologist, government administrator, set designer and author of over two dozen books. Undoubtedly, his most important role was in Egypt as chief inspector of antiquities (1904-1914). As his granddaughter shows in this (perhaps overly defensive) biography, he labored tirelessly to save Egypt's archeological treasures from thieves, antiques dealers, public work projects (such as the Aswan Dam) and amateur excavators. Weigall had a profound understanding of the economic and cultural forces that led to the plundering of Egypt's riches: he especially blamed Western museums for "creat[ing] a market in stolen antiquities." Hankey is most effective when she's describing the intricate, often exasperating political infighting Weigall engaged in with his boss Gaston Maspero, director of the department of antiquities for Egypt, as well as with Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon (the two men who discovered King Tut's tomb). But at times, the book reads more like an apologia than a biography. For example, she cites Carter's biographer regarding the Carter-Weigall conflict and then analyzes it for anti-Weigall bias. Hankey also contends that Weigall deserves to be taken more seriously as an author of novels and histories. She cites numerous glowing book reviews and quotes from his admiring fan mail. But even Hankey is compelled to admit that Weigall's prose tended toward the purple and that his conception of history was tinged with romantic idealism. In the end, it's hard to know just what legacy Arthur Weigall left behind he played too many roles, and this biography reflects that lack of focus. 16 b&w photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Egyptologist Arthur Weigall is probably most widely remembered today for his involvement with Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. In this detailed biography, Hankey (Weigall's granddaughter) draws extensively upon Weigall's personal correspondence for the first time, allowing readers to see events from his perspective and shedding new light on some references to Weigall in T.G.H James's Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun (Columbia Univ., 1992). Hankey does full justice to Weigall's accomplishments in the field of Egyptology prior to Tutankhamun's discovery while also capturing his energy, enthusiasm, and reverence for Egypt and the characteristics of the remarkable people with whom he worked. But this biography is far broader in scope than its title suggests, for as Hankey recounts, Weigall turned to writing novels and experimenting in theater and film. Weigall's family life is also ably documented. Hankey is fair in her presentation of Weigall as a complex man who dismissed the existence of Tutankhamun's curse yet may well have fostered popular belief in it. Material from Weigall's correspondence will be of particular interest to specialists, while general readers will be attracted to the account of Weigall's life and work in Egypt.-Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Part 1 1880-1914
1 'That violent hullabaloo'p. 3
2 'Select establishments'p. 13
3 From pedigrees to hieroglyphsp. 17
4 Egypt 'like a house on fire'p. 26
5 Private idyll; Howard Carter; public idealp. 38
6 Yuya and Tuya, and Weigall 'Bashmufetish'p. 54
7 The flooding of Nubia; the Tombs of the Noblesp. 67
8 Another royal tomb: Queen Tiy? Akhnaten?p. 82
9 The Eastern Desert; 'odium archaeologicum'p. 98
10 Gaiety; Akhnaten; and Howard Carter againp. 110
11 Maspero; the Autocrat of Thebes; Akhnaten's cursep. 130
12 Alan Gardiner at Gurneh; high life in Luxorp. 139
13 'Egyptologists are themselves ... the worst vandals'p. 158
14 Breakdown; the bronze; the war for Egypt's heritagep. 171
15 Scandal, schemes, and Egyptology for Egyptiansp. 188
Part 2 1914-1934
16 From Egypt to the West Endp. 209
17 Experiments in theatre and filmp. 226
18 Novelist and film criticp. 245
19 Tut-ankh-Carter and TutCarnarvonp. 259
20 American lecture tour; Carter again; and divorcep. 275
21 Egyptian chronology; English monumentsp. 292
22 The Old Brigade versus the modernsp. 310
23 History again: beating the Philistinesp. 322
24 Shutting the doorp. 334
Appendix The concession allowing Theodore Davis to dig in the Valley of the Kingsp. 345
Sourcesp. 349
Notes and Referencesp. 353
Indexp. 371