|Max Mallowan and Agatha Christie|
I belong to a local organization - the Monday Afternoon Club - which has as its mission "the encouragement of culture among women". It was founded in 1887. It meets in a community room at the library from October to April. We begin the year with a very civilized tea complete with silver tea service at a member's home and end each year with a luncheon.
In between those two social events, each Monday afternoon a member presents a research paper on a subject in one of three broad categories chosen by the 35 members the previous year. We have a short business meeting, one member presents Current Events - highlights from the headlines of the preceding week - and then the week's paper is given.
It is all very enlightening.
Which leads me to tell you that this year I will be giving a paper in the category of "Unearthing History". My subject will be the Middle Eastern archaeological adventures of Dame Agatha Christie. I started nosing about for stories on female archaeologists in general and discovered that Ms. Christie wrote what she called 'an archaeological memoir' - a tale first published in 1946 of her experiences investigating ancient, dusty ruins with her husband Max Mallowan. Some of her most delightful mysteries take place in or around those foreign excavations.
I have taken the title of my paper from the title of her book: Come, Tell Me How You Live.
The book arrived yesterday along with another volume of stories of seven female archaeologists by Amanda Adams entitled Ladies of the Field (2010). It takes a look at Victorian ladies - including Ms. Christie - who gathered up their skirts and went off to seek adventures far from home.
So I will be spending the next month or two reading and researching these brave ladies and then comes the most fun - writing the paper.
This will be my fifth presentation to the club and although it causes quite a bit of nail-biting, hair-tearing, and heavy sighing, in the end it always proves to be an enriching experience and one that I look forward to. I do think it will be quite fun Unearthing History.
Speaking of unsung women a new book has just published which may finally give credit where credit is due to a little know archaeologist Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the deciphering of Cretan ancient language/Tablets. There is a review in the NY Times Book section right now; I now have it on my "seek out" list. I recall watching a BBC documentary a few years ago which addressed Arthur Evans, the gentleman archaeologist who led the excavation at Knossos. I don't recall if Alice was mentioned as a key in the intriguing tale, typical.
Thanks Tullik. I will look up Ms. Kober and perhaps add her to my paper.Delete
How exciting this research should be, Belle, and how stimulating the mission of the Monday Afternoon Club seems to be. I hope you will tell your readers more about the paper as time goes by.ReplyDelete
Hi Penny. I think the paper will be fun, if a bit daunting, to research and write. I will keep you posted on my progress. Thanks for your interest!Delete
I'm not sure if you're on twitter, Belle, but you might be interested in https://twitter.com/trowelblazers, who post on pioneering female archaeologists (I see they have a blog too - http://trowelblazers.tumblr.com/)ReplyDelete
Ha! I love the name...trowel blazers. How clever. I will give the blog a look. Thanks for the info, Vicki.Delete
I don't think I knew anything about the connection Agatha Christie had with archaeology until I read her autobiography a few years ago. I haven't read Come, Tell Me How You Live and will put that on my TBR list towards the top. You will be finding all kinds of interesting facts for your group and hopefully will share some of them with us.ReplyDelete
Joyce in KS
Hi Joyce. Christie's husband Max Mallowan also wrote a book or two on his adventures so there appears to be plenty of source material. I am anxious to 'dig in'. I most certainly will be writing about all the books I read for this paper.Delete