Battiscombe Gunn

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Dates: 
1883-1950

British Egyptologist; he was born in London, 30 June 1883, son of George G., a member of the Stock Exchange, and Julia Alice Philp; he was educated at Westminster and Bedale’s Schools, and became interested in Egypt while still at school; he entered a City bank but found the work distasteful, and lived in Paris for some years working as a journalist; he was sub-editor of the Paris edition of the Daily Mail; he was private secretary to Sir Arthur Pinero, 1908-11; he was a good linguist and learnt Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic, also starting hieroglyphs under M. Murray as a part-time student at University College London; he also received encouragement from Sir Alan Gardiner; he excavated with Engelbach at Haraga, 1913-14; he served in the army 1914-5 when he was invalided out; he then became assistant to Gardiner and helped in the lexicographical work of Onomastica; he married 1. Lillian Florence, widow of Herbert Hughes, 2. Constance Anna Rogers; he was a member of the Amarna excavations for the EES, 1921-2; the Saqqara excavations for the Eg. Antiquities Service, 1924-7; he was appointed Assistant Curator, Cairo Museum, 1928-31; Curator of Eg. antiquities, Philadelphia University Museum, 1931-4; Professor of Egyptology, Oxford, 1934-50; he edited the JEA, 1934- 40; Gunn was a most exacting critic and maintained an extraordinarily high standard for his own publications so that his published work constituted but a small part of his total labour; his chief works in an output of 72 books, articles, and reviews, were The Instruction of Ptah-hotep, 1906, an early work which he afterwards repudiated; Harageh, ch. ix, with R. Engelbach, 1923; The City of Akhenaten, pt. i, ch. viii, with T. E. Peet and C. L. Wooley, 1923; Studies in Egyptian Syntax, 1924, his most important work compressing an immense amount of material into a compact form and breaking new ground in the study of the verb; The Teti Pyramid Cemeteries, with C. M. Firth, 1926; he also worked for many years on the Hekanakhte Papers, later published by T. G. H. James, 1962; his library went to the University of Durham and his papers and notebooks to the Griffith Institute, Oxford; he died in Oxford, 27 Feb. 1950.