General Secretary

On the death of Amelia Edwards in 1892, Emily Patterson was made General Secretary of the Fund and she moved to London to take her place in the offices at 37 Great Russell Street (CM.1892.214; Drower 1985: 200). There, she continued to write letters to characters across the still developing discipline of Egyptology; uniting scholars, subscribers, excavators and curators across the world. She organised the annual exhibitions and distributions of artefacts discovered in Egypt as well as taking part in various classes on offer. One particular lecture series she attended was given by William Matthew Flinders Petrie at University College London. A book, preserved in the Egypt Exploration Society Lucy Gura Archive, contains her notes from these lectures, while the back is taken up with copious copies of coptic inscriptions from a class led by Margaret Murray.

As well as an avid student of Egyptology, Emily was also lecturing for the Fund to promote its activities and increase subscriber numbers. Her lecture book, also retained in the archive, preserves a complete transcript of some of the talks that Emily gave. Emily also wrote two poems based on her experiences working for the Fund, both published in Biblia. Both are given below:

On a mummy bead 360 pxUshabtiu 180 px

 Above left: ‘On a mummy bead’ by Emily Paterson, published in Biblia in December 1901; right: ‘Ushabtiu’ by Emily Paterson, published in Biblia in April 1902

Emily Paterson ran the Fund from 1892 through to 1919, not without the odd scuffle. In 1906 she had to remind Petrie (her own tutor) of the Fund’s financial system over an issue he raised with the establishment of his (rival) British School of Archaeology in Egypt. While the issue of driving subscribers from the Fund was not something Emily could stop, she did defend the Fund against his attack on asking for payments owed from the previous year – which he described as ‘a rotten system of accounts’ (COR.20.G.198-199; Drower 1985: 296).

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