Egypt in South Africa

Marriage and family life

During Petrie’s July 1895 Thebes exhibition in London Hilda Mary Isobel Urlin, the youngest of four daughters of a lawyer, visited the exhibition where Petrie caught sight of her and followed her until he plucked up enough courage to speak to her.
On 26 November 1896 Petrie married Hilda Urlin in St Mary Abbot’s in Kensington; he was 43 and Hilda 25. Both of them were dressed in their travelling clothes and they left immediately after the ceremony. His wedding present to her consisted of books on monumental brasses plus ancient Egyptian beads strung together by him. This was the beginning of a lifelong partnership, not just in marriage, but also in Egyptology.
After nine years of married life in April 1907 Hilda gave birth to John Flinders Petrie. Their daughter Ann was born in August 1909. The parents spent the European winters digging in Egypt, but returned home for the summer, which of course included the long summer school holidays in the United Kingdom.
Hilda Mary Isobel Urlin (left) with Flinders Petrie in 1897.
Hilda Urlin with John photographed in 1910.