William John Bankes (1786-1855) was a brilliant and remarkable man. In 1812 he went to Spain and Portugal to pursue a Bohemian lifestyle among the gypsies. This was followed by travels in the Near East. Bankes amassed a vast portfolio of notes, manuscripts and drawings by the artists who accompanied him on his Egyptian travels. Their extremely high degree of accuracy makes them a very valuable record of the ancient monuments, many of which have since been damaged or lost. His intuitive detective work and the many copies of hieroglyphic inscriptions he accumulated were instrumental in the struggle to decipher hieroglyphs. This book tells Bankes' story, describing his travels in detail and assessing his contribution to Egyptology.
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Patricia Usick received a PhD in 1998 for her thesis on Bankes' portfolio of drawings and manuscripts. She has published a number of articles on Bankes and other early travellers to Egypt.
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