At Home in Southern Egypt: Lucie Duff Gordon’s life on the Nile
Copyright (c) 2021 Claudia Capancioni
Questo lavoro è fornito con la licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 4.0 Internazionale.
When Lucie Duff Gordon moved to Egypt in 1862, she had a distinguished career as an English translator of literary and scholarly texts from the French and German, including the popular and influential novel Mary Schweidler, The Amber Witch (1844). Brought up in Germany and France, as well as England, she was a polyglot with an atypical, rigorous education, who engaged with some of the most influential thinkers of the time in her parents’ salon in London, Bonn, and Paris, and the one she established with her husband in London. Her intellectual and linguistic talents and confidence meant that, as a Victorian woman, she was often singled out. Advised to journey south to improve her serious health conditions caused by tuberculosis, her skills found a renewed purpose in Southern Egypt, where she spent the last seven years of her life. In search of a warmer, dry climate, she created a meaningful Egyptian life: she learnt Arabic and studied the culture, traditions, and religions of her new country. She connected with the community in Luxor who valued her for her generosity, medical knowledge, and need to testify. Her perceptive letters bear witness to the controversial rule of the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, to the poverty of the working classes, and to those forced to work on the Suez Canal.