While researching my thriller, Ark of Blood, I read Sigmund Freud's final book, Moses and Monotheism, written in London in the final year of his life after being exiled from Vienna in the wake of the Nazi invasion. As a self-proclaimed ‘godless Jew,' he spent his life avoiding his own faith in many ways but returned to it in the final years, trying to explain anti-Semitism, as well as investigating the origins of Judaism.
The book claims Moses was an Egyptian, murdered in the desert by the Hebrews and that the guilt of the murder of the father figure has stayed with Judaism ever since. It's a complicated book but a fascinating one and in fact, many of the objects in Freud's study link him with ancient Egypt, which I explore further in Ark of Blood.
I visited the house, now a museum, that he lived in with his family and where Anna Freud continued to practice after his death. It is on a suburban street in Hampstead, a normal brick house of reasonable size, but certainly not as grand as you might expect from the man who cast such a long shadow with his writing and influence.
His study is that of an archaeologist, not a medical doctor. It is crammed with artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as tools from other cultures. His desk (shown above) has two rows of ancient gods with barely any room left for writing. Of particular note is the white marble statue of the Egyptian god Thoth in his baboon incarnation. Thoth was the god of writing, of wisdom, science and was also a key part of the judgment of the dead.
Also on the desk is a modern metal porcupine which is from America, from the trip to Clark University which features in Stone of Fire. I was quite thrilled to see it there – sometimes fiction moves into fact and vice versa!
Also in the study are two prints that feature in Ark of Blood. A copy of Rembrandt's Moses holding the tablets of the Law, a black and white cross-hatched image that shows Freud's interest in Moses at this point in his life.
The other is a night scene of Abu Simbel, a massive rock tomb and temple in Southern Egypt which I have visited and remains a deeply resonant place for me. The print is fascinating as there is a light coming from inside the long-abandoned tomb — what might be happening inside?
You can find out about the Freud Museum here and if you're in London and fancy a slightly different kind of tourist experience, get off the beaten track and head to Hampstead.
Join the adventure in Ark of Blood.