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Here is the lovely cover art for Amelia Edwards, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, a travelogue originally published in 1877 which I am using as research for the third volume of Jane Digby’s Diary: Following an Eastern Star. Below is a brief excerpt from this volume in which I borrow heavily from Edwards’s lyrical description of the Great Pyramid of Giza:
The greatest of the great pyramids, the pyramid of Cheops – thought to be in its 70th century – stands 480 feet tall, with the length of each side running 732 feet, but like most calculations of the kind, they diminish. Only someone who has walked the length of one side or climbed to its top can realize, however imperfectly, the duration of seven thousand years – it was as if I had been snatched up for an instant to some vast heights overlooking the plains of time and had seen the centuries mapped out beneath my feet.
In Volume Three of Jane Digby’s Diary Jane discovers the Middle East – and the poetry of 14th century Persian writer, Hafez, who remains popular even today. What follows is one poem written by him that I have included in Following an Eastern Star:
This photograph from 2010 shows the ruins of Palmyra, or Tadmor, as Jane refers to it in Following an Eastern Star. Large portions of this ancient city were destroyed during the Syrian Civil War in 2015.
Here is a photograph of Jane’s childhood home which she visits one last time in the conclusion of Jane Digby’s Diary.
THE PLACES OF DAMASCUS
The Great Mosque of Damascus, 1862. Taken by Francis Bedford, an English photographer who visited the city shortly after the Damascus Massacre.
The Citadel of Damascus in a vintage illustration. The Citadel provided shelter to the people of Damascus during the 1860 massacre.
The Christian Quarter of Damascus after the massacre, 1860.
The Damascus Embassy, though often identified as Jane’s home.
Jane’s grave site in Damascus.
THE PEOPLE OF DAMASCUS
Lady Strangford (nee Emily Beaufort). One of the many travellers to Damascus who wrote of Jane and of Syria.
The Prince of Wales who toured the Middle East in 1862. He met Jane during his travels there.
Emir Abdelkader, hero of the Damascus Massacre and friend to Jane and Medjuel.
A female Bedouin sword dancer. Jane writes of one such dancer in White Lady.
Isabel Burton as a young woman.
Richard Francis Burton, explorer and author. He called Jane, “Out and out the cleverest woman” he had ever met.
A page from Richard Burton’s Arabian NIghts.
Carl Haag’s portraits of Jane and Medjuel el Mezrab. They now hang in the entrance to the Kuwait Museum.
Thank you, dear readers for supporting my labor of love, Jane Digby’s Diary. I am currently working on my next writing project, a stand-alone novel about the Christiana Riot, an incident that many historians believe began the American Civil War. I hope to publish it in 2022.