Lady Anne Blunt and the English Idea of Liberty: In Arabia, Egypt, India, and the Empire




Lacy, Lisa McCracken

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This dissertation explores a portion of the life, travels, and political activities of nineteenth century British traveler and Arabist, Lady Anne Blunt. Lady Anne held independent and, by the standards of the time, radical ideas about the need to respect Arab culture and to deal with the Arabs as equals. With an encompassing knowledge of the region, she challenged prevailing assumptions and exerted influence in high British political circles. Lady Anne's aristocratic heritage as the granddaughter of celebrated poet Lord Byron, helped her gain access to the political circles that were gaining power in the Arab world Lady Anne's journeys, through much of the Mediterranean region, North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and Persia, became the basis for her broad knowledge of the Arab world. She pursued an intimate knowledge of Bedouin life in Arabia, the town Arab culture of Syria and Mesopotamia, and the politics of nationalism in Egypt. Lady Anne developed an important worldview, egalitarian in its outlook, with a consistent, even cosmopolitan, set of social and moral parameters that knew no skin color or race. Lady Anne's well-known husband, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, developed a reputation as an anti-imperialist, political activist, and political writer. Anne was her husband's partner in marriage, politics, and travel, and her numerous journals provide a record of their journeys and political activities offering an original new look at her virtually unknown work, while bringing new perspective to his. This dissertation focuses primarily on Lady Anne's most politically active decade, 1880-1890, along with biographical details that influenced her political persona. Lady Anne Blunt and her husband made a substantial contribution to the Egyptian National Party, the defense of Egyptian revolutionaries after their defeat, and the restoration of nationalistic pride in Egypt during the British occupation. Lady Anne's influence reached beyond Egypt as well, as she partnered with indigenous inhabitants for justice and liberty in the so-called jewels in the imperial crown.



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