ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Best Books on Egyptian Mythology: My Picks

Updated on December 26, 2014
Veronica Ion's Egyptian Mythology. one of my favorite reference books (this is the cover art on my edition; see below for the 1991 edition's cover)
Veronica Ion's Egyptian Mythology. one of my favorite reference books (this is the cover art on my edition; see below for the 1991 edition's cover)

Recommendations from an Egyptophile

I've loved ancient Egypt ever since my childhood days of hanging around the Egyptian floors of the Walters Art Gallery and the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Tales of Ancient Egypt, a children's collection of Egyptian myths by Roger Lancelyn Green, was one of my favorite books at age seven. By junior high I was chewing on Budge's antiquated translation of the The Egyptian Book of the Dead. While working on an MA in Mythological Studies, I've had a chance to review more scholarly and recent books on Egyptian myths and legends.

So let me thumb through my library of books on ancient Egypt and give my recommendations for the best books on Egyptian mythology. Some of these are great for the general public, kids and/or students, while others are scholarly resources.

Egyptian Mythology

Recommended for: Students, Egypt enthusiasts, college

Unfortunately, my top recommendation, Veronica Ion's Egyptian Mythology is out of print. Fortunately, you can purchase it used on Amazon.

This well-organized 140-page volume is divided in three parts: The Creation of the World (variant creation myths according to different major cults), Divinities (a comprehensive guide to the Egyptian pantheon including major and minor gods), and Life After Death (the Osiris cult and afterlife beliefs). An index, further reading list, and compact timeline of ancient Egypt make this book a must-have for any student or Egypt enthusiast. Hundreds of black and white illustrations drawn from ancient art show pictures of nearly every Egyptian god.

Egyptian Myths

Recommended for: High School, College, General Public

As an alternative to Veronica Ion's Egyptian Mythology, Hart's compact 80-page handbook (British Museum and University of TX Press 1990) packs a great deal of information into a small space. It covers the variant creation myths, myths of Osiris and Set, of Isis and Horus, folktales, the journey through the underworld, and more using quotes from original sources. While it doesn't have the space to present Ion's in-depth coverage of the Egyptian pantheon, it's a fairly good reference with helpful index, charts, maps and black & white photos of Egyptian art.

Gods & Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology

Recommended for: Kids, fans of Egypt

Here's another out-of-print treasure you can find on Amazon from used booksellers. 128 pages, it's officially written for ages 9-12, but I was delighted to receive this book as an adult. Artists David O'Connor and John Sibbick bring ancient Egypt magically to life with black-and-white illustrations and full-color, full-page plates in a modern style based on Egyptian art and motifs. Geraldine Harris turns extant Egyptian myths into 24 well-told tales that are accessible to modern readers. Illustrated sections on hieroglyphs, symbols and god-names plus bite-sized notes on Egypt's history provide context and explain the Egyptian civilization for general readers. This is a magical book.

By Roger Lancelyn Green (1967)

Tales of Ancient Egypt

Recommended for: Kids, fans of Egypt

Roger Lancelyn Green is the Edith Hamilton of Egyptian mythology. His Tales of Ancient Egypt kept my head full of wonder on many long road trips as a child. I'm not sure if the current edition has the black-and-white illustrations I remember, but Green retells twelve classic stories from Egyptian mythology in a lively and engaging style that doesn't talk down to kids, while deftly side-stepping racy bits. 256 pages, officially for age 9-12, this was my favorite book when I was 7. (Many of these twelve stories are also in Harris' Gods & Pharaohs, but they are different retellings which feel to me like they're aimed at age 11-14.)

NOTE: I have linked to the Amazon listing for the old, illustrated paperback edition that I fell in love with at age 5. There is a new edition on Amazon -- search for Roger Lacelyn Green "Egypt" -- with a new preface by Michael Rosen, but I don't think it retains Heather Copley's illustrations (see the cover art above for an example). Either way, it's a Puffin Book classic.

Egyptian Mythology: A Guide

Recommended for: College Students, Research

Someone has finally written a suitable replacement for Veronica Ion's Egyptian Mythology. College professors, here's your textbook. College students, here's your sourcebook. (And I've been enjoying reading it for fun.)

This 214-page volume is divided into three parts: 45 pages discussing Egyptian history and literary sources for mythology, 40 pages on a "Mythic Timeline" stitching together most of the major stories of the gods, a hundred-page alphabetical "Deities, Themes and Concepts" section that comprises the bulk of the work, and a 40-page section which will be very valuable for students including online and print resources on Egyptian myth, a Glossary of names and terms, a bibliography of primary sources, and index.

The one thing it skimps on is narrative myths: it covers most of the surviving ones (which are admittedly few), but the bulk of this book is the mini-encyclopedia on Egyptian deities and other figures and concepts of mythology.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Raymond O. Faulkner's translation of The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a museum-quality presentation of the "Papyrus of Ani," a lushly-illustrated New Kingdom edition of the classic Egyptian text buried with the dead as a guidebook to help them reach the blessed afterlife.

This coffee table book includes a brief foreword orienting the general public about Egypt's history, culture, and beliefs about the afterlife. The bulk of the book is high-quality, large color plates of Ani's papyrus with a translation below. Following the translation is a commentary and a glossary of names.

Get this version or another modern edition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, NOT the popular Dover translation by E.A. Wallis Budge, which was published in 1895.*

Literature of Ancient Egypt

Recommended for: Students, Researchers, Scholars

The Literature of Ancient Egypt is an extensive 600-page anthology of translations covering all the major texts, not only including Egyptian mythology, but also books of maxims, poetry, religious texts and historical documents. Each text includes a brief introduction and sparse notes, and there is a valuable 70-page bibliography of almost-current scholarship in Egyptian literature and manuscripts.

*Warning: EAW Budge's Books Are Outdated

Dover publishes many popular books by EA Wallis Budge, a 19th century Egyptologist working shortly after hieroglyphs were deciphered. Much of his work holds up, but don't rely on his information. Since Budge, countless papyri have been discovered, many sites have been excavated, and a century and a half of research by hundreds of Egyptologists have corrected and superseded his pioneering work.

If you know of any students of ancient Egypt, please share this page.

© 2011 Ellen Brundige

Guestbook - Comments? Suggestions?

Submit a Comment
  • Digory LM profile image

    Digory LM 

    6 years ago

    Nice job. I appreciate the scholarship you put into this.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    These are a nice collection of books to cover, I'll have to check them out. Great job on the lens.

  • mythphile profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellen Brundige 

    9 years ago from California

    @Sesheta LM: That's a better way of putting it. I've still got a soft spot for Budge myself-- and a number of his books! -- but one definitely has to understand his work represents the dawn of Egyptology, before we knew what we know now.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Sesheta LM profile image

    Sesheta LM 

    9 years ago

    I love AE Wallis Budge but his books need to be kept in context and should not be read by "beginners". Wonderful lens, thanks!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)