PEGGY DROWER (Mrs MARGARET HACKFORTH JONES)
8.12.1911 - 12.11.2012
Peggy died peacefully this morning only a month away from her 101st birthday.
I doubt there is anyone left who remembers her working at Amarna and Armant in the 30s but there are many who were taught by her at UCL where she was the lecturer in Ancient Near Eastern History, and even more who know her from her biography of Flinders Petrie. With Hilda Petrie, Peggy can take credit for creating the public persona of Petrie.
I asked her once if she would write her autobiography and she said that autobiographies should only be written by interesting people. She wasn't often wrong, but she was in not considering her life interesting.
The daughter of diplomat Sir Edwin Drower and his wife Ethel Stefana Drower, an anthropologist and specialist on the Mandaeans (and who witnessed Wooley’s discovery of the Royal Tombs of Ur), Peggy was taught by Petrie and Margaret Murray and Stephen Glanville. She was awarded a First in Egyptology - one of the first Egyptology degrees awarded by UCL. She worked at Armant with Myers and Mond and Ali Suefi, and at Amarna with Pendlebury. Glanville recommended her for the post in the History Department at UCL a post she held until the war. As an Arabic speaker she was sent out to work with Freya Stark in the Baghdad Ministry of Information. After the war she developed the Ancient History/ Egyptology Degree which has produced generations of rounded scholars who see the history of their specialist discipline in the greater framework of the ancient world.
Her students included David O'Connor, Tony Miles, Faiza Haikal, Robert Merrillees, Geoffrey Martin, Rosalie David, George Hart, Carol Andrews, Janine Bourriau, Nicholas Reeves, Amelie Kuhrt, Robert Morkot, and 'most of the British Museum Ancient Near Eastern Department' ( with apologies for those I have undoubtedly missed out)
I wonder just how many generations of lecturers in Egypt and the Ancient Near East she shaped? How many of us have learned our skills from her teaching and her writing, or from those trained by her. I imagine hundreds of people shouting, ‘me!’
She retired as Reader in Ancient History at UCL, Honorary Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Vice President of the Egypt Exploration Society. She has contributed to many books, especially the Cambridge Ancient History series, and documentary programmes on the ancient Middle East and is, of course, the author of 'Flinders Petrie: a Life in Archaeology' (London: Victor Gollancz, 1985); and 'Letters from the Desert: The Correspondence of Flinders and Hilda Petrie', (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2004) - and I realise that I am still writing in the present tense.
Peggy was a lovely person who never lost her smile, a generous supporter of the Petrie Museum and of the Friends, and of her many, many students and colleagues. She lived independently until only a few years ago and was still keenly interested in research. Peggy's daughters Laila and Jenny, and their families, have suffered a great loss and we offer our sympathy and support.
(with thanks to Kristin Thompson and Gene Miller, KMT 1996, vol.7/1)