Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Toby Wilkinson

Toby Wilkinson first became interested in Egyptology at the age of five. He studied Egyptology at the University of Cambridge, graduating with a First Class Honours degree and winning the University’s Thomas Mulvey Prize. After completing his doctoral research at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he was elected to the college’s prestigious Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowship in Egyptology (previous holders of which include the eminent Egyptologists Harry Smith and Geoffrey Martin), which he held from 1993 to 1997.

Following two years as a Leverhulme Special Research Fellow at the University of Durham, Toby Wilkinson returned to Cambridge in 1999, and has been a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge since January 2004. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham.

From his Q & A with Alexandra Cheney at the Wall Street Journal about his latest book, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt:

How did you come up with the idea to write a 482-page book about ancient Egypt?

Actually it was in a conversation with my literary agent. We were batting around ideas for books and he said, “you know what, I think you ought to do the complete history.” And the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. Nobody had done it for 50 years and I thought, “well, let’s give it a crack.”

You’re referring to Alan Gardiner’s “Egypt of the Pharaohs,” correct? How much of the information in that book overlaps in yours?

At the time Alan Gardiner was writing, some of his ideas were a little out of date. That book has sat on library shelves ever since is really no longer a reliable guide to what we know about ancient Egypt. My task that I set for myself was to take the last 50 years of archeology and ancient history and studies that have been done by academics around the world and to bring the story right up to date with the latest knowledge in a way that was not only well researched but also compelling and accessible for the average reader.

Where did this original interest in Egypt stem?

It’s an extraordinary...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue