Penn in Hand: Selected Manuscripts

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Ms. Coll. 851 - Diary of a trip on the Nile River
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Other: Ms. Coll. 851 - Diary of a trip on the Nile River
Diary of a trip on the Nile River, 1874-1875.
Physical description:
1 volume (plus 6 leaves)
This red leather-bound volume, beginning in August 1874 and ending in February 1875, is the anonymous diary of a woman from New York City. Most entries in this vividly detailed journal begin with the date, followed by the time and the temperature and/or weather. The diarist and her companion, to whom she refers as "C." (who is probably Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1828-1887), leave from New York on 22 August 1874 on a Cunard steamer named Algeria. They arrive in Liverpool, England on 2 September and travel to London, where they tour the city and its outskirts. On 19 September they proceed to France, arriving in Paris on 22 September. Here they visit museums and tour the city, meeting friends and artists, including painter Albrecht Schenck (1828-1901). From Paris they journey to Italy, making several stops, even gambling in Monte Carlo. The writer relates details about France's landscape of eucalyptus and olive trees. They arrive in Italy, stopping in San Remo and Savona, where she records witnessing women working in the brickyards. A train takes the women through Italy, where the works of art and architecture they encounter in Florence, Rome, Pompeii, and Naples are documented. From Brindisi the pair takes a steamer to Egypt, arriving in Alexandria on 10 December. The writer describes the sounds of waterwheels, foggy mornings, the landscape (some of which is desolate and arid and some with barley and lentils), wildlife, bazaars, mud villages, irrigation, and local peoples and their dress. They arrive in Cairo on 12 December, where they visit the Cairo Museum, travel to the pyramids, see the sphinx, and are escorted by an officer to visit four mosques. On 20 December the women, Daibes (their dragoman--a guide and interpreter), and a crew of sixteen begin their voyage up the Nile River on a dahabeeyah (a shallow-bottomed boat with two or more sails) named "Southern Cross." A list of the crew and description of the boat including a layout drawing are recorded in the journal. The women often socialize with their friends the Browne's, who are traveling on a dahabeeyah called the "Lotus." Each stop along their voyage is documented; at Luxor, for example, they travel on land by donkey, reaching the temples of Thebes and seeing a Coptic monastery. The women encounter sandstorms and traverse the cataracts. Passing the Tropic of Cancer at the end of January 1875, they commence their return trip down the Nile to Cairo. The diary ends abruptly as the writer is describing Ramses III tomb on 27 February 1875. Six leaves are laid in the diary, including a list of people and distinguishing characteristics, a layout sketch of a boat, a plan to visit Syria, a landscape sketch in pencil, a clipping naming some people leaving New York on the Algeria, and a map of the Nile River Valley.
Manuscript location:
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts University of Pennsylvania Ms. Coll. 851
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