After the post from yesterday about the Murray-Breasted letters, a friend and colleague, Amara Thornton at UCL, wrote to me about her finding recipes from Murray to Gerald Lankester Harding in Harding’s correspondence collections. See her blog post here, where she bravely recreates Murray’s curry in her own kitchen!
Thornton also just published an article about finding these recipes, in Present Pasts. In the article, Thornton goes into much more depth about the teacher-student relationship between Murray and Harding, their respective careers, and how both had spent their childhoods, if not most of their lives, outside of Britain in the colonial context. Using culinary traditions as cultural and historical context, Thornton clearly makes the case that their childhoods in “exile” (Murray in India and Harding in China) had a lasting impact on their lives in archaeology. Their abilities to adapt to the field, not to mention living on Flinders Petrie’s infamously Spartan excavations, came straight from their lives as children. (See images below for a small part of Petrie’s candid explanation of finding “quarters to live in.”)
But, I digress. I won’t summarize Thornton’s article here, as you should go read it yourself. But, I wanted to point Thornton’s work out as excellent example of finding small pieces in the archives that help to weave together the complex fabric that is one life–for me, Murray’s life–and the threads that connect the seemingly disparate contexts and events.
Does anyone else know of any other Murray letters out there I’m missing?
(NB: if you’re not sure if it is Murray’s hand, I’d be happy to help discern it! Thornton wasn’t sure, and was able to do an in-person comparison in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology archives, thanks to the help of their lovely staff.)