Few Western scholars of the Middle East have exerted such profound influence as Edward William Lane. Lane’s An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), which has never gone out of print, remains as a highly authoritative study of Middle Eastern society. His annotated translation of the Arabian Nights (1839–41) retains a devoted readership. Lane’s recently recovered and published Description of Egypt (2000) shows that he was a pioneering Egyptologist as well as Orientalist.
The capstone of Lane’s career, the definitive Arabic-English Lexicon (1863–93), is an indispensable reference tool. Yet, despite his extraordinary influence, little was known about Lane himself and virtually nothing about how he did his work. Now, in the first full-length biography, Lane’s life and accomplishments are examined in full, including his crucial years of field work in Egypt, revealing the life of a great Victorian scholar and presenting a fascinating episode in East–West encounter, interaction, and representation.
Jason Thompson is the editor of Edward William Lane's Description of Egypt(AUC Press, 2000) and An Account of the Manners and Customs of Modern Egyptians(AUC Press 2003). He is the author of Sir William Gardiner Wilkinson and His Circle and A History of Egypt: From Earliest Times to the Present (Haus 2009).