Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Poole, Sophia

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POOLE, SOPHIA (1804–1891), author of the ‘Englishwoman in Egypt,’ was the youngest child of the Rev. Theophilus Lane, D.C.L., prebendary of Hereford, where she was born on 16 Jan. 1804, and the sister of Edward William Lane [q. v.] In 1829 she married Edward Richard Poole, M.A. of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, barrister-at-law, but recently admitted to holy orders, a notable book-collector and bibliographer, an intimate of Thomas Frognall Dibdin [q. v.], and anonymous author of ‘The Classical Collector's Vade Mecum’ (1822). In 1842 Mrs. Poole and her two sons accompanied her brother to Egypt, and lived in Cairo for seven years, where she visited some of the harîms of Mohammad 'Ali's family, and obtained a considerable knowledge of domestic life in Mohammadan society, as yet but slightly modified by western influences. The results of her experiences were embodied in a series of letters, published, under the title of ‘The Englishwoman in Egypt,’ in Knight's weekly volumes (2 vols. 1844, and a second series forming vol. iii. 1846). The book supplies a true and simple picture of the life of the women of Egypt, together with historical notices of Cairo—these last were drawn from Lane's notes and revised by him. After Mrs. Poole's return to England with her brother in 1849, she collaborated with her younger son, Reginald Stuart Poole [q. v.], in a series of descriptions of Frith's ‘Photographic Views of Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine’ (1860–1). After the early education of her children, her life was mainly devoted to her brother, Edward Lane, up to his death in 1876; and her last years were spent in her younger son's house at the British Museum, where she died, 6 May 1891, at the age of eighty-seven.

The elder son, Edward Stanley Poole (1830–1867), was an Arabic scholar, and edited the new edition of his uncle Lane's ‘Thousand and One Nights’ (3 vols. 1859), and the fifth edition of ‘The Modern Egyptians’ (1860); he also wrote many articles for Smith's ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ besides contributing to the eighth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ and occasionally to periodical literature. He became chief clerk of the science and art department, and died prematurely on 12 March 1867, leaving two sons, Stanley Lane-Poole and Reginald L. Poole.

[Private information.]