LONDON – Still used by scholars today, the Arabic-English Lexicon written by pioneering Egyptologist and eminent Orientalist, Edward William Lane, is one of the most extraordinary works available in our forthcoming Arts of the Islamic World sale on 8 October in London. This lexicon, which took 34 years for Lane to complete, was the first to appear in Arabic and English and represents a remarkable work of scholarship that has yet to be surpassed in the realms of lexicography.

Edward William Lane.

Edward Lane, who first travelled to Egypt in 1825 at age 24, became fascinated with its culture, and fully immersed himself in learning Arabic, wearing local dress and spending his time primarily with locals. The present lexicon is sold as it was presented to the publishers, Williams and Norgate, and is written mainly in Lane’s own hand; bearing testimony to his monumental achievement. These 40 volumes, accompanied by a ten-volume manuscript of al-Saghani’s ‘Ubab from the Mamluk period, an extremely rare work in its own right, are sold by order of the 12th Duke of Northumberland and the trustees of the Northumberland Estates, highlighting the historical connection between Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland and Edward William Lane.

Edward William Lane (d.1876), Arabic-English Lexicon, printer's manuscript copy, 40 volumes, second half 19th century, with 10 volumes of al-Saghani's 'Ubab, Egypt or Syria, Mamluk, dated 653 AH/1255 AD.

The Lexicon project was conceived and realised through the support of Algernon Percy, Lord Prudhoe, the second son of the second Duke of Northumberland who first travelled to Egypt and the Levant in 1826. A notable Egyptologist and academic, he spent his time in Cairo with prominent figures in the field such as Jean-François Champollion as well as E.W. Lane himself. When he succeeded his brother as Duke of Northumberland, he maintained his particular interest in Egypt by collecting antiquities, which later became the founding collection of the Oriental Museum at the University of Durham.

Arts of the Islamic World, London, 8 October.