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The Ethiopian Manifesto: Issued in Defence of the Black Man's Rights in the Scale of Universal Freedom
Robert Alexander Young

Of all of the traditions associated with African American interest in ancient Egypt, there is perhaps none so well-known as what is called “the black Jeremiad.” Named for the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, a Jeremiad is a form of prophetic literature associated with the divine destruction of a wicked people and the deliverance of the children of God; the Jeremiad warns that those who have... [more]

Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, Death of Cleopatra
Julia C. Jones

As often as writers and artists loved to imagine themselves looking upon the body of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra at the moment of her suicide by snakebite in the first century B. C., others loved to imagine that they themselves were Cleopatra at the moment of her death. First-person poems were especially popular forms for rendering these fantasies; with the excuse of providing “first-person”... [more]

The Death of Cleopatra
William Gilmore Simms

Few icons of nineteenth-century Egyptomania enjoyed such fame as Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Powerful, dangerous, sensual, erotic, and ultimately a victim of her own desires, Cleopatra – or, more properly, her legend, as received and reconstructed by her interpreters in the nineteenth century – was never a simple or straightforward figure. Complex and contradictory, her story varied from century... [more]

Moses: A Story of the Nile
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

In the twentieth century, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper found herself admitted to the ranks of canonical African American women writers. Her 1892 novel Iola Leroy; or, Shadows Uplifted, is considered one the most important African American novels of the nineteenth century, and is frequently taught as a prime example of the most prominent black literary themes of Reconstruction: reunion,... [more]

From West Africa to Palestine
Edward Wilmot Blyden

Few black men have accrued such prominent reputations in the history of black nationalism as Edward Wilmot Blyden. Born free in 1832 on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, Blyden traveled extensively in North America, Africa, and the Arab world. A prolific writer, politician, spokesman, and teacher, Blyden made his home in Liberia, and lived and worked at the highest levels of local and... [more]

Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan
John Lloyd Stephens

John Lloyd Stephens was the most famous and popular American travel writer of the nineteenth century. Born in 1805, wealthy son of a Manhattan businessman, highly educated and well-connected, Stephens was the model of the nineteenth-century white American gentleman adventurer: he traveled extensively in Europe, north Africa, and the Arab world, as well as Central America, and was author of... [more]

The Sphinx's Children
Rose Terry Cooke

Rose Terry Cooke was an extremely prolific and popular American writer of the nineteenth century, but who is largely forgotten today. Born in 1827, Cooke lived her whole life in Connecticut, where she published hundreds of poems and dozens of short stories, as well as novels, children’s fiction and a host of nonfiction essays on religion and politics. Somewhat notorious for her opposition to... [more]

A Text Book of the Origin and History of the Colored People
James W. C. Pennington

African Americans have been constantly forced to document their own history. During slavery, white historians and European scientists waged a fierce battle to deny African Americans any claim to history, made sweeping generalizations about the “inferior nature” of the “negro” race. In the face of this racism, African Americans worked feverishly to write their own histories, and to recast the... [more]

The True Messiah; or, The Old and New Testaments, Examined According to the Principles of the Language of Nature
Guillaume C. L. Oegger

As much as American Egyptomania involved archaeology, science, and history, it also involved religion, scripture, and the Bible. And while this might be most clearly seen in the role of the Old Testament in the history of Egyptomania – Pharaoh and Moses, Hebrew bondage and the Promised Land – it can also be seen in the remarkable power of the concept of hieroglyphics. Originally and most... [more]

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
Anna Jameson

Celebrated British feminist Anna Brownell Jameson was one of many women writers to become fascinated with the figure of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra in the nineteenth century. Cleopatra was a source of an enormous amount of interest in the 1800s, on many levels: she was powerful and yet tragic, political and erotic, a strong female figure yet associated with aggressive and “unnatural” sexual... [more]

World-Noted Women; Or, Types of Womanly Attributes of All Lands and Ages
Mary Cowden Clarke

The 1850s saw an explosion of American interest in the figure of Cleopatra. Poems, paintings, sculptures, and novels all were written with the Egyptian queen at their center, but the main form accounts of Cleopatra took during this decade was biography. Short or book-length, praising or damning, sanitized or scandalous, biographical studies of Cleopatra were hugely popular and sold regularly,... [more]

Reminiscences of William Wetmore Story, American Author and Sculptor, Being Incidents and Anecdotes Chronologically Arranged Together with An Account of his Associations with Famous People and His Principal Works in Literature and Sculpture
Mary E. Phillips

One of nineteenth-century America’s most successful sculptors, William Wetmore Story worked in the neoclassical idiom, sculpting large marble figures modeled after classical Greek and Roman styles, and even lived for a time in Rome, Italy, at the height of the neoclassical vogue. Like his colleague Hiram Powers, he was a fixture in the white liberal upper-class social circles of New England, and... [more]