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Tyldesley was born in Bolton, Lancashire and attended Bolton School. In 1981 she earned a first-class honours degree in the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean from Liverpool University. Her doctoral studies were undertaken at Oxford University; first at St Anne's College then, following the award of a scholarship, at St Cross College. In 1986 she was awarded a doctorate in Prehistoric Archaeology from Oxford University. Her thesis was written about Mousterian bifaces (handaxes) in Northern Europe. Tyldesley then joined the staff of Liverpool University, teaching Prehistoric Archaeology.
Tyldesley then worked as a freelance Egyptologist/archaeologist; writing books, working with television companies, and teaching in higher education and online.
In 2007 Tyldesley joined the University of Manchester. She is currently Reader in Egyptology at the University of Manchester where she is tutor and Programme Director of the three-year online Certificate in Egyptology programme and the two year online Diploma in Egyptology programme. She has devised, writes, directs and teaches a suite of on-line Short Courses in Egyptology, and has created several free online Egyptology courses (MOOCS), working in conjunction with the Manchester Museum. Mumford the Mummy is a series of lessons aimed at Key Stage 2 primary school children, freely available via Nearpod.
Tyldesley is currently working with Dr Nicky Nielsen to write the world's first online Masters programme in Egyptology. This will be taught from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester.
In 2011 Tyldesley was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bolton. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and a Research Associate of the Manchester Museum. Tyldesley is President of Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society and an ex-trustee of the Egypt Exploration Society.
Tyldesley is a part-qualified Chartered Accountant, and spent 17 years supporting her writing career by working as small business manager for Crossley and Davis Chartered Accountants in Bolton.
Tyldesley has extensive archaeological fieldwork experience, having excavated extensively in Britain, Europe and Egypt.
Rutherford Press Limited
In 2004 she established, with Steven Snape, Rutherford Press Limited, a publishing firm dedicated to publishing serious but accessible books on ancient Egypt while raising money for Egyptology field work. Donations from RPL were made to Manchester Museum, the Egypt Exploration Society and the Liverpool University fieldwork project at Zawiyet umm el-Rakham. Rutherford Press closed in February 2017, to allow Tyldesley to concentrate on her teaching.
Tyldesley has written a wide variety of academic and popular books for adults and children, including books to accompany the television series Private Lives of the Pharaohs (Channel 4), Egypt's Golden Empire (Lion Television) and Egypt (BBC). In January 2008 book Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt, was the Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Her play for children, The Lost Scroll, premiered at Kendal Museum in 2011. Her book Tutankhamen's Curse (published as Tutankhamen in the USA) was awarded the 2014 Felicia A. Holton Book Award by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Bibliography (Books only)
- The Wolvercote Channel Handaxe Assemblage
- The Bout Coupe Biface: a typological problem
- Nazlet Tuna (with Steven Snape)
- Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt
- Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh
- Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen
- The Mummy: unwrap the ancient secrets of the mummies' tombs
- Ramesses: Egypt's Greatest Pharaoh
- Judgement of the Pharaoh: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt
- The Private Lives of the Pharaohs
- Egypt's Golden Empire: the age of the New Kingdom
- Pyramids: the real story behind Egypt's most ancient monuments
- Tales from Ancient Egypt
- Stories from Ancient Egypt: Egyptian Myths and Legends for Children
- Unearthing the Past (with Paul Bahn and Douglas Palmer)
- Egypt: How a Lost Civilization was Rediscovered
- Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt
- Egyptian Games and Sports
- Egypt (Insiders)(for children)
- Mummy Mysteries: the secret world of Tutankhamun and the pharaohs (for children)
- Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt
- The Pharaohs
- Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
- Stories from Ancient Greece and Rome
- Tutankhamen's Curse (published in the USA as Tutankhamen)
- Nefertiti's Face: The Creation of an Icon (London: Profile Books, 2018)