Collection E. W. Lane MSS - Edward William Lane Collection

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E. W. Lane MSS


Edward William Lane Collection


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Biographical history

British Arabic scholar; he was born in Hereford, 17 Sept. 1801, son of Theophilus L., a military officer and prebendary of Hereford Cathedral, and Sophia Gardiner; after being educated at the Grammar Schools of Bath and Hereford, he joined his brother in London as an engraver, but abandoned that career owing to ill health; he learned Arabic and went to Egypt, 19 Sept. 1825-7 April 1828, where he spent most of his time in Cairo although making voyages up the Nile from 15 March-28 Oct. 1826 where he went as far as the Second Cataract, and 23 June-19 Dec. 1827 with Hay up to Abu Simbel; he left in MS a voluminous description and a large number of drawings (BL Add. MSS 34080-8: others in the Griffith Inst. Oxford); he returned to Egypt from 13 Dec. 1833-29 Aug. 1835; Lane spoke Arabic fluently and in 1836 published Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, a companion work by Wilkinson which dealt with the Ancients being published later; he was in Egypt again, 19 July 1842-16 Oct, 1849, when he compiled his great Arabic dictionary, An Arabic-English Lexicon, for which funds were provided by Algernon Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, which appeared in parts from 1863-93; Lane was the leading Arabic scholar of Europe, and although his works are primarily concerned with the modern Egyptians, they are of great value to Egyptologists as he was closely associated with Hay and Wilkinson; he was elected a corresponding member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 16 Dec. 1864; his collection of antiquities was acquired by the British Museum in 1842; there is a MS collection of his letters in the Bodleian Library and the Griffith Institute, Oxford; he also translated The Thousand and One Nights, 1839-41; Selections from the Kur-dn, 1843; Forty-one Eastern Tales and Anecdotes,1854; posthumously Cairo Fifty Years Ago, 1896; his unpublished work, Description of Egypt was edited and published by J. Thompson, 2000; he died in Worthing, 10 Aug. 1876

Archival history

Most of the Lane drawings and manuscripts were formerly in the possession of Sir Reginald Ward Poole, Lane’s nephew.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Most of the Lane drawings and manuscripts were donated in 1942 by Mrs Charles Larcom (daughter of Sir Reginald Ward Poole (1864-1941) and the great-niece of Edward Lane). Mrs Larcom passed Lane’s papers to Charles Francis Bell (1871-1966), who arranged their transfer to the Griffith Institute.
Lane’s manuscript for Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, comprising six notebooks and an accompanying album containing sketch maps of the Nile, was donated in 1947 by Austin Lane Poole (son of Reginald Lane Poole (1857–1939) and great-nephew of Edward Lane).

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Drawings, notebooks, notes and correspondence.

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Physical storage

  • Box: 0704A, 0704B