The accidental tourist, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Islamic reform and the British invasion of Egypt in 1882
AuthorBerdine, Michael Denis
AdvisorCosgrove, Richard A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe British invasion and occupation of Egypt in 1882 has long been a subject of interest for British Empire and Middle Eastern historians. This action by the Gladstone government is considered central to any discussion of the British in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result, its causes and major personalities have been examined in detail and discussed at length. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922), however, has generally been overlooked, ignored, or dismissed as inconsequential by historians of these events. While words like "naive," "gadfly," "romantic" and other less charitable terms have been used by historians and others to characterize him, it is the contention of this paper that Blunt's attempts to mediate the crisis did have an impact on the course of events. Moreover, recent research, in particular that of Alexander Scholch in his Egypt for the Egyptians! The Socio-Political Crisis in Egypt 1878-82 , has shown that Blunt's The Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt: Being a Personal Narrative of Events is a generally reliable and accurate resource concerning what took place in Cairo and London in 1882. Furthermore, Blunt was the victim of a government coverup aided and abetted by a jingoist London press at the time. Thus, his cause was considered treasonous in some quarters and his integrity questioned. The subsequent publication of the memoirs of others involved in the events supported the government's story (and their own involvement) only added to the negative perception of Blunt. As a result, his attempts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Egyptian crisis in 1882 have generally been ignored by historians and Blunt considered to be of little consequence in the outcome of the entire episode. This paper will show that this attitude towards Blunt is unwarranted and unjustified. Furthermore, his attempts to mediate the crisis were a factor in the British invasion and occupation of Egypt. Finally, it will show that omission of Blunt and his activities, as well as his Secret History as a source, in any discussion of the British invasion and occupation of Egypt in 1882 makes that work incomplete.
Degree ProgramGraduate College